Paper trail suggests that County Commissioners were not in touch with their own internal departments as matter digressed
Failure of Commissioners to work with USPS may have cost residents a new,
more modern facility in close proximity to their current P.O.
BROOMES ISLAND, Md. (Feb. 10, 2008) After a long period of uncertainty and much concern by local Broomes Island residents, it was decided that the Broomes Island Post Office will remain open for business. In a letter dated Jan. 16, U.S. Postal Service (USPS) officials advised local officials that the facility would remain open. The facility serves the residents of Broomes Island, which total more than 350 people.
"In recent days, Capital District officials reviewed this matter and concluded that the Broomes Island Post Office will be maintained at its current location at this time," wrote Mitch King, the government relations manager for the USPS. "This determination largely was based upon community comments and the adequacy of the present facility."
The matter dates back to July 2004 when the USPS sent a letter to County Commissioner David Hale saying they had selected a property for a new facility a short distance away from the current facility, at 8510 Church Road. "We believe this site will provide the community with an upgraded, modern facility that offers a safe working environment for our employees and a level of service expected by our customers," wrote Michael New of the USPS.
As time went on, rumors abounded that the USPS was planning to completely close the Broomes Island facility and move the operation to the nearby St. Leonard Post Office. According to the County Commissioners on Nov. 17, 2007: "An employee of the St. Leonard Post Office called the Broomes Island facility and made inquiries as to how many post office boxes they had, stating that they were preparing for the opening of their new location in January 2008."
This came on the heels of the October 27, 2007, closure of the Sunderland Post Office, in which Calvert County residents and officials say they were given very little notice.
The Commissioners claim that they had no communication from the USPS regarding the issue since the letter of July 2004 and their "numerous attempts to contact the USPS to obtain definitive answers regarding the status of the Broomes Island facility" went unanswered.
Believing the USPS was ignoring them, and with the rumored January 2008 date for relocation looming, the Commissioners enlisted the help of their federal representatives: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5) and Senators Barbara Mikulski (D) and Benjamin Cardin (D). Letters were mailed to all three on Nov. 13, 2007.
In letters dated Dec. 12 and 13, 2007, the USPS responded to Hoyer, Mikulski, and Cardin individually. They indicated that it was their desire to build a new facility at the 8510 Church Road location. However, the Calvert County Planning and Zoning and Health departments told them that the site could not accommodate the County's septic requirements. Subsequently, the USPS cancelled the project. This fact was not communicated in the letter from the Commissioners to Hoyer, Mikulski, or Cardin.
The USPS also advised the three politicians that they "will begin consideration of operational alternatives for Broomes Island next year."
On Dec. 17 and 20, 2007 respectively, Senators Mikulski and Cardin wrote to the Commissioners advising them of the responses from the USPS. Cardin wrote that he sent an additional letter to the USPS "asking that the community's needs be considered when determining the future operations at the Broomes Island Post Office."
Mikulski politely chided the Commissioners for indicating that they had not heard from the USPS since 2004 when in fact the USPS had worked closely with P&Z and the Health Dept. to obtain the necessary permits for the new site that was in close proximity to the current facility. None-the-less, Mikulski indicated that she had asked Postmaster General John Potter to work with the commissioners and P&Z and that "he keep the communities concerns in mind..."
Finally, on Jan. 16, the USPS wrote local officials to indicate that the existing Broomes Island Post Office would stay where it is.
The Broomes Island outpost has been serving residents since 1946. The building is a landmark in the Broomes Island community and is on the list of Maryland Historic Properties. If the facility had been closed, residents of Broomes Island, which total more than 350 people, would have had to commute more than 11 miles to the St. Leonard Post Office. Local officials say this would have been a particular hardship on the communities' aging population.