By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
Mrs. Cichelli has been a longtime loyal customer of the Downtown Boca Raton Post Office located at 170 NE 2 Street.
“This has been my post office for 16 years. I’ve had the same [post office] box here. It’s a fantastic location. Nobody wants to give it up!”
Cichelli stopped by her local post office on the way home from a March 29 Public Input meeting regarding possible relocation of the Downtown Post Office.
She described the meeting as having “no clarity. What is that big word we like to use? – Ambiguous. We want it to stay here,” she said of the 58-year-old post office whose building bears a 1960 dedication plaque from when Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States, and Arthur E. Summerfield was Postmaster General.
Nearly 125 people packed into the tight-knit quarters at the Boca Raton Community Center Annex at 260 Crawford Blvd. for the 4:30 p.m. Thursday public input meeting hosted by representatives from the U.S. Postal Service in which few answers were given, and no decisions were made.
Mayor Susan Haynie and Council Members Scott Singer and Andrea Levine O’Rourke were in the audience, as were several news outlets.
“The frustration is: People came to hear what is going to happen…Get us a decision ASAP!” said Council Member Levine O’Rourke.
Mayor Haynie said the city will push out contact information for USPS so residents can voice their opinions.
Singer said an unanimous decision was made by Boca CRA Board on March 26, to pass a resolution stating the city wants to keep the post office where it is.
According to Juan Nadal, USPS Marketing Manager for the Southeast Florida Region from Ft. Pierce to the Keys, the March 29 meeting began a 30-day public input period.
“USPS will review comments/concerns prior to making a decision,” said USPS Strategic Communications Specialist for the Alabama & South Florida Districts Debra J. Fetterly on April 11.
Damian Salazar, a Dallas, TX –based Real Estate Specialist for Facilities Implementation with the U.S. Postal Service made the presentation, but said he is not the decision maker.
“The purpose of this meeting is to assure increased opportunities for members of the community who may be affected by the project, along with local officials, to convey their views concerning the contemplated project and have them considered prior to any final decision,” Salazar read a prepared statement about “Why We Are Here.”
He said the existing Boca Raton Downtown Post Office Building is 8,473-square feet. The Post Office estimates it would only need about a 4,065 square-feet retail building in new acquisition alternate quarters. The total site would need to be about 40,757 square-feet, with 31 parking spaces, in the preferred area of: Glades Road to the North; E. Camino Real to the South; 5 Avenue to the East; and 2 Avenue to the West.
Prospective downtown post office locations were listed as:
327 Plaza Real (800 feet. from current location)
20 SE 3 St. (.4 miles from current location)
1609 NW Boca Raton Blvd. (1 mile from current location)
“How to have a continued presence in the Downtown” was brought up for discussion.
“Can you confirm you will have a continued presence in the Downtown area?” pressed Singer.
“Our overall goal is we want to stay in the Downtown area,” said post office representative Salazar.
At least one resident questioned the timing of the meeting after hearing that the current lease for the Downtown post office is set to expire in June. Landlord James Batmasian of Investment Limited said the lease expires July 13, not in June. “The other two locations you’re looking at are owned by me. We would be happy to relocate you.”
He said he had already signed a [4-year] lease renewal for the post office in September, after he had been working on the lease with them for about a year. “Today is the first time I’m hearing the post office wants a 10-year lease (with a 5-year extension),” he said.
Batmasian was asked after the meeting if he was trying to push the post office out from its current location?
“No.” Asked if he had recently raised the amount of the lease, Batmasian said, “It went up 3
percent,” which he called standard.
Asked whether the current building needs renovation, Batmasian said, “Yes, it needs renovation.” He described the renovations as exterior painting, etc., adding that two engineering reports had declared the building to be structurally sound.