Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blackshear Stuck on Post Office Plans to Close Site Downtown Opposed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blackshear Stuck on Post Office Plans to Close Site Downtown Opposed

Article excerpt

BLACKSHEAR -- Residents and businesses are so eager to keep the post office downtown that they've offered an appealing alternative: free land.

The U.S. Postal Service has said it will move from its 60-year-old building on Blackshear's Main Street and build at a site less than a mile west on traffic-heavy U.S. 84. Postal officials say they need a place with more parking and work space and where they can provide adequate handicap access.

But moving to the busiest stretch of road in town should not be the only option, retired banker Alvin Ratliff said.

"You move the post office away from downtown and it dies," Ratliff said.

Ratliff and other residents, who formed the Committee to Protect Downtown Blackshear, said a landowner who does not live in the city has offered a 2.8-acre site behind the current post office building to the Postal Service free. The group also has obtained 552 signatures in hopes of pressing the Postal Service to change its mind.

Glen Ackerman, an Atlanta-based Postal Service real estate specialist who helped pick the new location, said any site for the post office must be at least 3.5 acres and equal to or better than the lot on U.S. 84.

Residents will be able to voice their concerns before Ackerman and other officials at 1 p.m. today at the Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, said Nancy Ross, a Postal Service spokeswoman.

Recently elected City Council member Jerry Dixon said he doesn't understand why the Postal Service isn't jumping at the chance for free land.

"Why spend the taxpayers' money to buy something else?" he asked.

Dixon said he is concerned about the elderly having to negotiate the traffic on busy U.S. 84 if the post office moves.

Most of the elderly people who have contacted him expressed the same concerns, he said.

Ross said if the post office stayed put, the Postal Service would have to make some drastic changes to its current building, which has no access for the disabled and cramped working conditions. …

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