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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Post Office Stamps Into the New Year

New Post Office Stamps 
Into the New Year
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)

Westport, CT – Ahh, there’s nothing like the smell of a new space. In this case, it was a blend of latex paint fumes being used for touch-up and the aroma of decorative poinsettias in the entry hall of Westport’s new post office in the Playhouse Square Shopping Center, 245 Post Road East.

The facility had its soft opening to the public first thing Tuesday morning, to the delight of the majority of customers. Dennis Kassimis, Postmaster for Westport and Weston, was on hand to welcome customers, who dropped in to visit their new boxes, mail letters and conduct retail transactions. An official grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in the coming weeks.

Since 1935, the Postal Service had conducted local mail operations down the block, at 154 Post Road East. After moving local mail-sorting services to a facility in Norwalk, however, the USPS determined that the 10,000-square-foot site was too large for its retail operations.

“There was a lot of unutilized space there,” said Kassimis. “For our current operational needs, it made sense to open a smaller facility.”

The 245 Post Road East office, which encompasses 2,700 square feet and was formerly occupied by the Derma Clinic European Day Spa, will accommodate only retail services. This includes regular retail needs, post office boxes, passport application, and parcel lockers for large package pick-up. Westport customers with P.O. boxes will not need to change those addresses, but will need to pick up new box keys.

Kassimis, who has been with the USPS for 26 years since beginning as a letter carrier in Stamford, said the move was a bittersweet one for him. “It’s sad to leave the old place, but nice to be in the new,” he said. “I just have to get used to it. We’ve been putting in a lot of hours getting things moved over and situated for opening day. New year, new beginning.”

Most of the first customers, like Westporter Kathleen Carey, were pleased with the new office. “I’m excited about this,” she said. “The parking situation is better, and it’s nice to have a new facility for a service we really rely on in town.”

Hannah Lissette, who was visiting her new P.O. box, agreed with Carey’s assessment and added, “The postal service in town in general is great. I usually stop in early and they always have my mail ready for me.”

Local plastic surgeon Ellen Mahoney commented that it’s just “great to still have a post office in Wesport” and she “would hate to lose it.” She added, “The people are friendly, patient and courteous… and the new office is near Organic Food Market and other shops, so I can get a few more things done.”

Charmian Valante brought in her daughters Olivia, 9, and Kate, 6, deciding it would be fun for them to see the new place. “We also came to mail thank you notes from Kate’s birthday party,” she said.

The only dissenter in the crowd of early visitors seemed to be Morley Boyd. “This is grim, sort of prison-like,” he said about the appearance of the new space, trimmed in blue and white. “I feel like I’m out on parole. It’s sterile and ahistoric. The old facility was wonderful, though undermaintained.”

But even Boyd, in his grumpy New Year’s demeanor, had to agree that parking was more efficient.

Westport’s new downtown post office will be open 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. The facility is closed on Sunday and Federal holidays.

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