USPS planning to move Washington location off 211 near bank
‘For the first time since 1804, there will not be a post office in the town’
The U.S. Postal Service announced yesterday, Sept. 5, that the Washington Post Office is moving to the mid-county Route 211 corridor, next to the Union Bank & Trust building.
Rick Hancock, the Raleigh, N.C.-based postal service real estate specialist who’s been managing for more than a year the planned relocation of the post office from its longtime quarters at Main and Middle streets to a larger and more modern facility, on Wednesday emailed Washington Mayor John Sullivan a letter from the Postal Service’s Northern Virginia District Manager Jeffrey Becker announcing the decision.
The letter said the service had chosen a building site owned by Jimmie DeBergh, and bordered by Bank Road and Schoolhouse Road, just off U.S. 211.
“The new building will offer more space, more P.O. Boxes and more parking,” Becker wrote. “The new location provides easy access for our customers and employees.”
Reached by phone, Hancock characterized the decision as an “operational decision made by people at the top.”
“We are looking for long-term benefits,” he added. “We don’t do this lightly, and we take our time — I know it can be frustrating, but that’s the way it works.”
The bank moved to its current location — just across Bank Road from the proposed post office site — from its headquarters on Gay Street in Washington 16 years ago, a move many presumed was made after the town council declined to permit the bank to expand the building and to add a drive-thru.
This time around, the town had fought hard to keep the postal facility in town, most recently proposing it be moved to the 2500-square-foot office building now occupied by Dr. Jerry Martin on Gay Street.
“We are keenly disappointed and extremely frustrated,” Sullivan said in an email Wednesday. “We worked hard to keep it in town and believe we have a good alternative on Gay Street, which is convenient to the bulk of governmental, commercial and residential users of the post office. Now it will be nearly two miles away. For the first time since 1804, there will not be a post office in the town of Washington . . . very sad. They didn’t much care about the impact on our local community.”
The Post Office has been in its current space — which it leases on a month-to-month basis from town councilman and Inn at Little Washington owner Patrick O’Connell — since the early 1980s. Among the reasons the search for a new space began, Hancock had said, is the need for better daily access by large commercial trucks and a larger, more efficiently designed space — both due to the increase of large package deliveries from online shippers.
Currently the Post Office space is 1900 square feet. Hancock said Wednesday the square footage of the new facility had not yet been determined. On Tuesday, DeBergh said access to the proposed site would be from Bank Road, not U.S. 211.
Moving the Post Office outside town limits would arguably impact the perceived business vitality of the county seat of Washington, given it’s among the last remaining gathering spots for residents conducting daily business there.
“It was saddening to see the library move out of town and the bank move out of town,” O’Connell had said when discussing the move earlier this year. “Naturally, I hope a more suitable location, central to the town, can be discovered for the [Post Office].”
Among the consequences of the move: Sullivan said it’s very likely the county health department, now located at 491 Main St. in town, will eventually move to Dr. Martin’s building, having made such a proposal to Martin recently.