After more than a year of construction, Gardner post office officials have a pre-final inspection date on new digs across town.
According to Wayne Sourk, Gardner Post Master, the new post office building currently under construction near 183rd and Center Street will undergo a pre-final inspection on Sept. 10. Sourk said that is a pre-cursor to final approval and an official moving date.
“I can’t move until they finish the building,” Sourk said, “But we’re thinking it could be within the next couple of months.”
The current post office building, located at 127 S. Elm, is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. The building had a good run, but Sourk said the community and postal service have simply outgrown the space.
During busy times, customers must sometimes wait to secure one of the office’s existing half dozen parking spaces. Occasionally, the line to speak with a post office employee at one of two windows stretches out of the building.
Sourk said those challenges should be alleviated when the new office opens.
“Right now we’re awfully cramped, and the customers are cramped trying to find parking,” Sourk said. “Gardner has been growing at roughly 7 percent per year on average for the last 10 years, and we’ve run out of space.”
Building a new post office in Gardner has been in the works for almost 10 years. Sourk said a new building has been approved and scrapped twice within the last decade.
The community was on the list for a new office prior to Sept. 11.
“Then the economy kind of went down, and it got taken off the books,” Sourk said.
About five years ago, the building was approved again and taken off the books a second time.
“But because of continued growth of Gardner, we were able to get it put back on,” he said.
Customers and postal workers may have a few adjustments to make once the new space opens. Sourk said some customers may have to change post office box numbers or move to different size boxes to keep the same number.
“I won’t say there’ll be hiccups. There will be adjustments,” he said. “And then there’s making sure everybody knows we’ve moved.”
Sourk said one of the large post office mail boxes on Park Street next to the current post office will likely remain for a time after the postal service moves. Eventually, Sourk said officials would like to find another space for the mail box.
“We’re going to try and relocate it somewhere on Main Street where it’s more accessible to more people,” Sourk said.
Like any building project, the post office construction is occurring in stages. After the pre-final inspection, there will be a final inspection. Post office officials will approve the building as a postal service building, and then the computer support technicians will set up data lines for window terminals and debit card machines. Then it’s simply a matter of selecting a move-in date.
Sourk said the post office will likely close on a Saturday in the current location and re-open on a Monday in the new space.
The date will be determined by two things – when construction is completed and Spring Hill’s new post office.
The Spring Hill Post Office is also set to move in the near future with a pre-final inspection date also on Sept. 10.
“One of us will probably move one weekend and the other will move the next,” Sourk said.