A preliminary plan has been floated to use funds from the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to construct a new post office in Gainesville.
A meeting took place last week between Gainesville and Hall County officials and a representative from the U.S. Postal Service to discuss the idea of using local funds to acquire land and build a new post office, taking traffic away from Green Street, the current location of the main post office.
Michael Miles, a spokesman for the postal service in Duluth, confirmed that the meeting took place but could provide no details. While the Gainesville main post office has long been a traffic problem, the building is functional for the needs of the postal service, and the service has no money for a replacement, Miles said.
However, a source speaking on the condition of anonymity said there are many details to be worked out, including what would happen to the current building and property, which adjoins two major buildings of Brenau University. The likely location for a new post office would be in the Gainesville midtown area, an area the city of Gainesville has designated for redevelopment.
The money, estimated at $3 million, would come from Hall County’s portion of the SPLOST. There has been no date set for a vote on a renewal of the 1-percent tax, however, it appears unlikely that it will happen this year. Chris Riley, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville, said moving the post office has been a concern expressed to Deal since his election to Congress in 1992.
"It’s really been a high priority for the congressman since he was approached by the city of Gainesville and the business community about 10 years ago," Riley said. "He’s been meeting with the postal service and the issue has always been money."
Riley said the service does not see the post office as a barrier to meeting the needs of its customers. Riley said Deal has been trying to facilitate an arrangement for moving the post office from Green Street.
"There are no funds in the quasi-government U.S. Postal Service for a new post office," Riley said.
In recent years, the postal service has opened additional facilities on Dawsonville Highway and Queen City Parkway, however, the main post office has continued to generate a traffic bottleneck on Green Street, which is the route of two major northbound arteries through Gainesville, U.S. 129 and Ga. 60.
While U.S. 129 actually turns onto Jesse Jewell Parkway and later onto Queen City Parkway, a large amount of vehicle and truck traffic still follows the old route through the heart of the city.
The moving of the post office from Green Street was among the highest priorities listed in the Vision 2030 plan sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and has often been listed for many years as a priority of the chamber in annual goals expressed to members of congress.
"The conversation about moving the post office has been going on for 20 years," said Kit Dunlap, president and chief executive of the chamber. "It’s not going to happen overnight, even if everyone agrees. We’re looking at a relocation to midtown at some point. It would be a focal point where people would go."
Dunlap said the current location is both a congestion and safety issue.