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Post offices cramped by growth

December 2, 1999

By Jan Grieco

CUMBERLAND - The U.S. Postal Service is feeling the pinch of growth here and looking for solutions to cramped facilities on both the mainland and Chebeague Island.

Terry Brooks of the postal service's real estate division told the town council last week that the division is doing an appraisal of land next to the existing mainland post office on Farwell Avenue for possible expansion. To add to the town's and the postal service's woes, the tiny Chebeague Island post office also has been pushed to the limit.

"We're looking for about 1,000 square feet total for the island," Brooks said this week. He did not say how much of an increase in size that is.

Brooks first met with the town council in March, when he said growth in town has pushed space requirements to nearly double the 2,300 square feet in the Farwell Avenue post office. About 2,000 more square feet are needed because the lobby and the work room are too cramped to continue serving customers adequately, and there also are numerous safety and health concerns.

Expanding the existing facility is always the first option and since March, Brooks told The Forecaster, that's what the postal service has been considering.

"We looked at a number of other locations offered to us but they were not suitable for a post office," Brooks said. An appraisal is presently being done on the adjacent property along with an assessment of the cost to expand. Once that information is in, a decision can be made on whether expansion of the current facility is the best bet or whether there will need to be an entirely new facility constructed.

The appraisal should be in within the next wee, Brooks said, but the cost assessment could take longer. he has no idea when a final decision will be made.

Meanwhile, the postal service will begin looking at the facilities on Chebeague Island and will try to get an understanding what islanders might want and what options the postal service has.

"This is in the very, very early stages," Brooks cautioned. "One of the councilors suggested that we meet with the residents if they wanted us to, and we're sending a solicitation to offer to meet."

If residents want to talk about the future of their mail service, the meeting will likely be scheduled for sometime next summer.