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New Post Office Plans Revealed

June 26, 2006 – The U.S. Postal Service Monday unveiled its conceptual plans for a new St. John Post Office at a meeting held at the Westin Resort and Villas. The new post office will be located in a building to be constructed by the V.I. government across from the Creek where a public parking lot now sits.
The Post Office has outgrown its current building located about a block from the new site to the point that Postmistress Tiffany Gumbs said she sometimes has to tell the St. Thomas facility not to send over any more packages because there's no room to store them.
"And at Christmas, people leave them so their kids don't see them," she told the two dozen people who attended the meeting.
Priscilla Maney, the district manager in charge of Virgin Islands facilities, said that with the new post office, the Postal Service can do away with the package trailer currently in use next to the Post Office. She said this means that the one or two people staffing the trailer can be called upon to work at the windows when lines form.
At November 2005 meeting, the Post Office said it planned to place the facility at a shopping center to be built at Guinea Grove near the Westin. However, at that meeting, the local government's capital projects coordinator, Keith Richards, announced that the government wanted to expand the planned vendor's plaza/parking garage to include the postal facility.
The Postal Service switched gears, and Richards said the contract will be signed in a few days.
"The Post Office will be the tenant," Richards said.
He said the building should be done in about 15 months. When the building is finished, the Post Office will then put in its facility.
Thomas E. Pino, the Postal Services' Hoboken, N.J.-based real estate manager, said that the length of the lease is still under negotiation.
The Post Office will occupy most of the lower level. It will have 6,500 square feet for the Post Office plus a 500 square foot deck. Additionally, 16 parking spaces are planned for use by Post Office Customers.
The vendor's plaza portion will use up to 1,000 square feet.
Richards said that it may turn out that when the Postal Services moves out of its current facility a block away, that building could be used as a vendor's plaza.
The second and third levels of the new building will have parking, with the third level open to the sky.
A total of 91 parking spaces, including those to be used by the Post Office, are planned for the entire building.
Richards said the Public Works Department will charge people to park on the second and third levels. Pino stressed that parking for the Post Office will be free.
Richards said the $3 million appropriated for the facility is already set aside by the Office of Management and Budget. He said the figure includes site preparation, including the removal of a tank of hardened tar sitting on the property, as well as construction of the building. The project is being designed by Cape Architects of St. Croix with construction by Apex Construction of St. Thomas.
Several issues came up at the Monday meeting. St. John businesswoman Lonnie Willis said she was opposed to having any vendors in the building because they would benefit from a subsidy paid for with tax dollars.
When St. John Administrator Julien Harley said that the "little guy" needed help, Willis said that the vendors currently located on government land paid low rates for 20 or 30 years.
"Those vendors got their chances. If you subsidize them with my tax dollars, I'm not happy," she said.
Pino told them both to discuss the matter outside of the meeting.
Also at issue was the fact that according to the conceptual design, postal vehicles won't be able to turn around at the loading dock. Instead, they'll have to back in off the main road.

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