U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, introduced a bill Wednesday that would require the United States Postal Service to get approval from local governments before moving a post office, as the postal service’s plans to move the Green Street office in Gainesville have some officials concerned.
The Green Street post office has been serving downtown Gainesville since 1967. However, as early as the 1970s, city officials passed a resolution asking the postal service to move it. Then, in 2018, the postal service announced that it would relocate the office. A new location has not been named.
“As cities across the country are experiencing rapid growth, post offices are struggling to remain accessible due to congestion, inadequate facilities, and aging infrastructure,” Collins said in a statement. “While it may be necessary for the Postal Service to relocate such facilities, like the Green Street Post Office in Gainesville, it is equally as critical the Postal Service take into consideration the serious community interests at stake when choosing a new facility.”
The Community Post Office Act will require the postal service to provide the appropriate local government with a public list of all proposed relocation sites, seek open comment from that government about the potential sites, and then get written approval from the government showing support for the new post office location.
“By requiring the Postal Service to receive written approval from local governments before relocating any post office, the Community Post Office Act will ensure each new facility continues to serve the needs of their community and remains accessible for future generations to come,” Collins said.
Under current law, the postal service is required to get input on relocation sites from community members and local elected officials. Collins has expressed concerns about a lack of public involvement in the Green Street office relocation.
Collins wrote a letter to the postal service last year in support of the Green Street office relocation, saying the current location had parking and accessibility issues. But in January, he followed up with the postal service and said he was worried the post office would be relocated too far outside the downtown area it is meant to serve. He asked that the city of Gainesville be included in the decision.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan also contacted the postal service in January, saying the city supported the move.
“Because this facility is situated on a major artery with heavy traffic congestion, entering and exiting the facility is not only challenging, but can be dangerous as well,” Dunagan said in his letter.
Dunagan also asked in January that the post office stay near the downtown area and offered to cooperate with the postal service on relocation efforts.
Gainesville officials on Thursday endorsed Collins’ bill.
“In our initial conversation with USPS, their desire was to move the Gainesville Post Office to a location that is convenient to the post office on Green Street. We expect the new facility to be convenient to anyone who has post office boxes or patronizes the existing post office,” Dunagan said in a statement.
Brenau University has made a $1.8 million offer on the 29,000-square-foot post office building and hopes to use the space for the College of Education, student lounges and study spaces. Ben McDade, Brenau’s vice president of marketing and communications, said Wednesday that Brenau was still in negotiations with USPS.