WHEELING - The town of West Liberty has purchased the town's post office building, but that won't stop Postal Service officials from ceasing operations after Oct. 21, residents learned Wednesday night.
Mayor Rosey Miller made the announcement during a required public hearing at the town's fire department regarding the closing of the West Liberty Post Office. Officials of the U.S. Postal Service took comments from residents at the public hearing and advised them of upcoming changes.
The postal representatives maintained the reason for the closing was the Postal Service's failure to reach a lease agreement with Nationwide Postal Management of Cedarhurst, N.Y., current owner of the West Liberty post office facility.
Photo by Joselyn King
West Liberty Mayor Rosey Miller speaks Wednesday during a earing on the closing of the town’s post office, while Flynn Altmeyer, a representative for Rep. David McKinley, listens.
"As of today, the town has signed a sales agreement with the owner," Miller announced at the start of the hearing. "We're willing to give you a free year's lease to stay in our town with the post office."
She said the town has agreed to pay $100,000 for the building, and hopes to close the purchase by Oct. 30.
In addition to the one-year free lease, the deal being offered by West Liberty would require the Postal Service to pay utility bills, and would promise a lesser lease for the second year below what they are presently paying for the building. Also, if the facility isn't later used as a post office, it will be turned into a town hall for West Liberty, according to Miller.
But the postal representatives said they expected sale of the building and the offer from West Liberty won't stop it from closing Oct. 21 as the facilities division reviews the offer. A feasibility study for maintaining the West Liberty Post Office must be conducted, they said, and the Postal Service would have to open a bid process in the event others have properties to offer.
Matt Dodd, manager of post office operations for the western Pennsylvania district, told residents they will no longer have their West Liberty post office boxes after Oct. 21. About 240 post office boxes are located at the West Liberty Post office.
Dodd reported rural delivery routes for West Liberty from Wheeling are being developed, and that residents would be informed during the next week as to where to place their mail boxes.
"This is an informational meeting to let you guys know we will be providing postal service to you - whether it be rural delivery (or post office boxes) there will be continued service to you.
"The only thing that will change is, right now, the post office doesn't not have an agreed lease for that facility. So we have to continue on as if (owners of) this building aren't going to renew its lease."
West Liberty residents will become part of Rural Route 5 out of Wheeling, but retain "West Liberty" on their address and the 26074 zip code, he said. Residents will be assigned mailing addresses corresponding to the 911 system address. All West Liberty addresses qualify for rural delivery, according to Dodd.
If a post office facility is later reestablished in West Liberty, residents would have the option of placing a post office box there or keeping their rural delivery, he continued.