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Norwich Mayor Deberey Hinchey is acting correctly in trying to slow plans by the U.S. Postal Service to close its Main Street office. She wants assurances that the Postal Service will open a new full-service center somewhere in or adjacent to the city's downtown.
Several years ago, the Postal Service made known its interest in stopping operations at the large structure at 340 Main St., which has long served as its Norwich home. While the old building is grand, artistically designed in a manner that today's government buildings are not, it is no longer practical. It is too large, inefficient and difficult for people with disabilities to access.
This newspaper supports efforts by the Postal Service to reduce spending, even if that means closing offices and reducing hours. City officials recognize the need for a new location for the Norwich Post Office. What they don't want is residents needlessly inconvenienced.
A Dec. 19 letter to Mayor Hinchey from Joseph Mulvey, a USPS real estate specialist, states the Postal Service, as expected, reached a preliminary decision to relocate out of the Main Street site. Mayor Hinchey was expected to receive approval from the City Council Monday night to appeal the decision. The mayor will meet with Postal Service officials and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, 1 p.m., Jan. 22 at Courtney's Norwich office.
At issue is where residents and businesses will receive service when the change occurs. Mayor Hinchey and other city officials want a full-service operation opened in a new, smaller and more efficient location, perhaps utilizing vacant retail space.
This appears to be a reasonable request.
Other options include relocating some or all services to a postal redistribution center on Route 82 in Bozrah, just over the Norwich border. This would inconvenience many city residents, particularly those without easy access to transportation. Postal Service authorities also have discussed locating a facility downtown that is run by a private contractor, but offering only limited services - mailing, package handling and stamp sales.
There is much to sort out and the mayor's instincts are right to buy more time for discussions.