PORT TOWNSEND — A new satellite post office offering service for those who cannot climb the stairs at the Port Townsend Post Office could be in place within three months.
Shopgirls by the Bay, which had housed the old substation, closed in November, leaving the town without a legally accessible venue for postal services.
(An earlier report in peninsuladailynews.com erroneously reported that the satellite office was still operating. Shopgirls by the Bay owner Patricia Stormetta closed the shop at 1117 Water St. Although a new business opened in the same location, the license to operate the post office was not transferable, and it was put out to bid.)
Since then, the Postal Service has continued drive-up service for people with disabilities at the Customs House, which houses the post office at 1322 Washington St. in Port Townsend.
The 117-year-old building does not meet federal regulations for handicapped access.
Lack of accessibility
In 2008, a complaint was filed under the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 about the lack of accessibility for those who can’t climb stairs.
Since then, the postal service and the city of Port Townsend have been working on a deal in which the Postal Service would turn the building over to the city in return for the city providing a separate facility from which trucks would sort and deliver the mail.
For the present, the Postal Service is seeking a substation that is handicapped-accessible.
The Postal Service has received three or four responses from local businesses interested in housing a satellite office, spokesman Ernie Swanson said Friday.
Bids have been delivered to the Denver postal service office where they will be examined before site visits are arranged.
Swanson said the new office could be in place in three months.
Swenson said that all bids are confidential, and he would not identify the businesses seeking to become satellite offices.
Christine Lorecki, the owner of the new shop at the Shopgirls’ old location, said that she had submitted a bid to reopen the post office substation there.
“I really enjoy running the service and know how it’s done,” she said. “And people still come in expecting it to be here.”
Lorecki said the bid process was complicated, but that it would be worthwhile if she could land the business.
Swanson acknowledged that the post office is out of compliance.
But he does not see this as a problem in the small community, but said he did not expect anyone to file legal action requiring the post office to become accessible.
“We provide a lot of alternatives for the customer,” he said.
“People know they can drive up, honk their horn or ring the buzzer, and someone will come out to take their mail or sell them stamps.”
“We had a lot of comments from people who were glad that we would do that.
“You don’t have to be handicapped for someone to get your mail if you drive up and honk.”
________Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.