Published December 31. 2012 4:00AM
Norwich -Nearly two years after U.S. Postal Service officials first informed city officials that they intended to sell the century-old Main Street post office, a "For Sale" sign appeared last week on the building's front lawn.
The commercial real estate firm CBRE/New England placed the sign on the lawn during the past week, with Realtor Bill Bronson listed as the agent. Bronson could not be reached to comment Sunday, and the property was not listed on the group's website. No sale price is given on the sign. City tax records say the building and grounds are appraised at $1.3 million.
"I was shocked last week when I saw it," said Nancy DePietro, administrative manager at Catholic Charities directly across Main Street. "That's scary."
In February 2011, City Manager Alan Bergren received a letter from James Hickey, real estate specialist for the U.S. Postal Service's facility service office in Windsor, announcing that the Main Street building would be put up for sale. The postal service intended to move the post office to the postal distribution facility at 292 Salem Turnpike near the Bozrah town line.
City officials then and now declared that plan "unacceptable," saying the downtown needs a post office at least for retail services such as package mailing, stamps and related services. The city's large immigrant population uses the post office for money transfers, passport and other services. The postal service has said it would not close the Main Street office until it is sold.
Mayor Peter Nystrom said Sunday that city officials are requesting a meeting with postal service officials and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney again to express again the city's concerns about the need for a downtown post office. City officials hope the postal service will lease a smaller storefront space - about 2,000 square feet - to house mail services and post office boxes for residents.
"The last word we had was that they would discuss that service with us," Nystrom said. "It's in their own best interest to do that. To simply go out on Salem Turnpike is unacceptable to us."
City officials last met with postal service officials in May 2011 at Courtney's Norwich office to express disapproval of any plan to move the post office out of downtown.
The current building at 340 Main St. was constructed in 1903 and was designed by noted architect Louis Simon, who designed numerous post office buildings throughout the country, city Historian Dale Plummer said.
The U.S. Postal Service opened the Salem Turnpike facility in 1999 as a mail sorting and distribution center for all towns in the 063 ZIP code area.