New Londoners should be encouraged by the assurances provided by the U.S. Postal Service concerning its attempt to sell the historic and iconic post office building on Masonic Street in the downtown. Our concern is whether the fiscally beleaguered postal service is really in the position to offer any ironclad promises.
That the postal service would want to trim operating costs by selling the three-story, granite and brick building with 45,000 square feet of space, is understandable. The postal service would likely consolidate distribution operations at the new post office in Waterford, which leads us to those assurances.
Postal service spokeswoman Christine Dugas told The Day that if it manages to sell the Masonic Street building (and we suspect that will be a challenge), it would open a smaller office in the city, with far less overhead costs, to serve New Londoners. In fact, said Ms. Dugas, if the postal service cannot get a sales price high enough to cover the cost of providing this new office, it won't sell.
It is critical that the U.S. Postal Service continue to provide a post office in the city, convenient to public transportation and preferably in the downtown district.
Ms. Dugas also provided assurances the postal service won't close the current location and leave it vacant with a for sale sign. It will continue to operate until there is a buyer and a new office to relocate operations.
Lastly, it was good to learn the covenants of the sale include a provision requiring the preservation of the 1930s-era Thomas La Farge murals that recall the city's whaling history.
However, as the fiscal pressures on the postal service mount, could it be tempted to simply abandon the large, costly downtown location? We fear so.
But at least the postal service is saying the right things. That's about the most that we can now expect.