Post office closing leaves New Boston in the air

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Friday, Feb. 4 was the last day of mail delivery for New Boston from the New Boston Post Office building. All mail is now coming from the Joy Post Office.

United States Postal Service (USPS) customers living in New Boston received some startling news last week -- their post office was closing.

Letters dated Feb. 1, 2011 began arriving in the postal boxes, or mailboxes (for rural postal customers) on Wednesday, Feb. 3. New Boston currently has around 300 post office boxes for the "in-town" residents inside the post office building. For rural delivery, the tremendous snowstorm put a halt to some of the USPS news delivery to the rural area. "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow" was not part of the USPS promise that week.

The letter stated that as of Jan. 31, 2011 the New Boston Post Office building's lease had expired and negotiation attempts between the post office and landlord had failed.

"Therefore, it will be necessary to suspend services in New Boston Post office at the close of business on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011," postal customers were told.

The letter stated the change is tentative and does not lead to a formal proposal "unless we conclude that it will provide a maximum degree of regular and effective postal services."

A community meeting is tentatively planned for Feb. 23 at the New Boston Community Center at 7 p.m.

The New Boston Post Office suspended delivery and retail services Friday, which are now being provided through the Joy Post Office located about seven miles away. The postal service is still in the process of deciding whether rural carriers will deliver to individual's rural-type mailboxes installed by customers, or whether the postal service will put up cluster boxes in neighborhoods for mail delivery.

The Joy Post Office lobby hours are 5 to 7 p.m. each day. Window service hours at Joy are 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Post Office boxes are available at this location at the same fee customers now pay for those who are currently paying for a post office box," the letter continues.

"I don't know why they're doing that, but that's alright with me," said Dick Maynard.

"This is all the decision of the gal in charge of the leasing process out in Colorado," said Maynard. "I've told her she can stay there," he said.

He said that the USPS real estate woman "wanted me to sign a thing asking them to get out," said Maynard. He said he "didn't want to do that."

"I abridged the lease, so I wouldn't be putting my neck in a noose," he said. Maynard said he used to take people's word on things, but has become more cautious. As for the lease of the New Boston building, he did make some alterations to some of his objections in the lease contract. "I blackened them out and signed the lease and sent it back to them," he said. "They have a signed lease."

What was abridged was blacking out a section of the lease agreement called the "Hazardous / Toxic Conditions Clause (HTCC)." Asbestos containing building material - any material containing more than one percent asbestos, needed to be identified and disclosed to the USPS, as well as any lead-based paint, radon above four points per cubic inch/L or lead piping or soldering in the drinking water systems in the building. The buildings surrounding soil also needed to comply with federal, state or local levels for any contaminated soil or water or underground storage tanks, including removing such materials or substances upon notification by the postal service or the EPA, at the landlord's cost.

The HTCC also gives the USPS the right to make the necessary building repairs, it the landlord "fails to remove any friable asbestos or hazardous/toxic materials" at the landlord's cost, recover the costs or cancel the lease.

One thing that was offered by the leasing agent, Maynard said was a raise in rent. "She was giving me a raise. They offered me $1,400 a year more money."

Before that, he was receiving $425 a month rent. He said he was happy to take the increase, "but I wasn't about to sign the lease."

He said he had a bad taste in his mouth from a situation from a couple of years ago at the Seaton post office building, which he also owns. "That's an old building," he said. The USPS wanted some work done to the back entry where the mail is delivered. He said he asked for an estimate from the real estate office on the project. Instead they sent in someone to do the work that was "not done right."

"They went in there and poured the basement. They wouldn't wait. That's a little bit why I'm stirred up about that," he said.

The RRRR & J Maynard Trust, Richard and Jennievee O. Maynard Co-trustees, own the New Boston and Matherville post office buildings. "I only own the Seaton one." Anything that happens, falls back on the building owner, according to their lease, he added.

Maynard also crossed out another section of the contract titled "Applicable Codes and Ordinances." This section gives the responsibility to the landlord to comply with all codes and ordinances applicable to the ownership and operation of the building, and to obtain any needed permits; and "when the postal service or one of its contractors is performing work at the premises, the postal service will be responsible for obtaining all necessary and applicable permits, related items and associated costs."

The Maynard Co-trustees signed this changed lease on Jan. 22, 2011.

In response, the real estate contract specialist returned an urgent message via FAX to the Maynards dated Jan. 27, 2011, adding some language to the lease as an addendum, saying that "Landlord is not responsible for any hazardous condition created by USPS during its use and occupancy of the property. USPS shall be responsible for any such condition."

This urgent Fax also stated that the two sections that had been blacked out would be reinstated into the Lease, with new pages switched out. "The fact that these changes to the Lease were made and not discussed first is worrisome. Should you not be amiable to the Lease with this addendum, I have attached a document for you to sign and return to me. Should you be amiable, again, I will switch back the pages of the original offer and thusly add the aforementioned Addendum."

 This Fax was signed by Nancy Calderon, Real Estate Contract specialist for USPS, out of the Western Facilities Service Office in Englewood, Colo.