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Norwich Post Office off the market for now

By Claire Bessette

Publication: theday.com

Published October 17. 2013 2:23PM   Updated October 18. 2013 12:14AM

Editor's Note: This version corrects the date of the informational meeting.

Norwich — The Post Office building on Main Street is no longer listed for sale, but U.S. Postal Service officials will seek public comment next month on future plans to relocate the retail postal operation in downtown Norwich, Mayor Peter Nystrom said.

Nystrom and Peter Davis, Norwich director of planning and development, met Thursday with Joseph J. Mulvey, real estate specialist for the postal service, to discuss the plan first announced in February 2011 to relocate the downtown post office to the postal service distribution center on Route 82 near the Bozrah town line.

Nystrom said Mulvey informed them that there was no interest by potential buyers in the historic Post Office building at 340 Main St., and efforts to sell the building are being suspended. A "For Sale" sign will be removed, and the building also will be removed from the brokers' listing, Nystrom said.

Mulvey also requested the opportunity to present the postal service's plans to the public. An informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 prior to the City Council meeting.

"At that meeting, we will describe the project, invite questions, solicit written comments and describe the process by which community input will be considered," Mulvey wrote in a letter dated Thursday to the mayor.

Postal Service spokeswoman Christine Dugas said while the sale of the Main Street building is on hold, the U.S. Postal Service still will "aggressively pursue the disposition of the building." And moving the retail operation to the distribution center at 292 Salem Turnpike would not occur until the future of the Main Street building is known.

"The building will not be left vacant if we decide to move retail," Dugas said. "The disposition could include selling it, auctioning it, leasing it or other options. Once we know the disposition of the building, we will explore the possibility of creating a Contract Postal Unit in the downtown area."

A Contract Postal Unit (CPU) is a post office located inside a retail establishment and operated by the retailer's employees.

After the Nov. 18 meeting, the public will also be invited to provide written feedback on the proposal. Input from both the public meeting and the written feedback will be considered in the final decision, Dugas said.

U.S. Postal Service officials said in the past that the plan did not warrant a public hearing because it would be a post office relocation within the city. However, Norwich officials objected to losing the downtown post office, and postal officials agreed to retain a retail presence downtown with a Contract Postal Unit.

"To me, it's a fresh start," Nystrom said of Thursday's meeting with Mulvey. "It was a very nice and very pleasant meeting. There hasn't been a lot of dialogue for quite some time. The sale effort was ongoing, but nothing materialized, according to him. We offered to help market the building. He was grateful for that."

c.bessette@theday.com

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