On Friday, October 7, the United States Postal Service issued a public notice stating that it had initiated a process for the proposed move of the Gypsum Post Office.
“Due to the need for a larger facility, the Postal Service must move retail services to a yet-to-be-determined location within the 81637 zip code or expansion of the current location,” a statement read. Press sent Friday.
According to the release, “the desired size of the new facility is expected to be approximately 6,000 to 8,000 square feet with adequate parking.”
Users of the Gypsum Main Post Office (located at 100 Oakridge Court) will receive a postcard from the federal agency with more information on the process.
James Boxrud, the Postal Service’s western region spokesman, wrote in an email Friday to the Vail Daily that the notice means the agency has “begun the process of reaching out to the community,” described in the agency code..
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The specific section of the code mentioned the details of the process of relocating retail services as well as adding new retail service facilities.
According to Boxrud, “the next steps in this process will begin within 60 days of the end of the peak season projects,” referring to the first quarter of the fiscal year from October to December.
“During this time, the USPS will begin researching the appropriate space solution to house postal operations,” Boxrud wrote.
The code outlines the Postal Service’s process and timeline for relocation. This includes community identification and engagement with local elected officials; inform the community and organize a public presentation; organize a public meeting to present the proposal, which will discuss the reasons for the relocation, the requirements for the relocation and more; taking into account any comments and appeals, and identifying any new sites.
“The relocation project will consist of securing a suitable replacement location, as close as reasonably possible to the existing location. Retail services will continue at the current location until necessary preparations are completed at the new location,” the statement read.
According to the release, the community can send comments to: United States Postal Service, Attn Gypsum, CO MPO Relocation, PO BOX 27497, Greensboro, NC 27498-1103.
The Gypsum Post Office faced many challenges regarding “inadequate space,” according to a previous interview with Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann.
In January 2022, Reitmann said that although Gypsum has one of the largest populations in Eagle County, it has a proportionately small post office, which brings challenges. Those challenges, he said, included traffic flow in parking lots and security issues; long wait times for counter service; insufficient building space, both for parcel delivery and interior space for mailboxes, customers, mail sorting, customer service and staff; and a run-down, disrepaired building and parking lot.
Faced with these challenges, the town of Gypsum began to communicate and seek solutions with the postal services. This included completing a “space constraint study” of the gypsum location, Rietmann said.
Rietmann told the Vail Daily in September that he believed this study took place “between approximately January 15 and March 15, 2022.”
As a result of this study, the city was “verbally advised at our regional city managers meetings with the USPS this spring that the Gypsum Post Office is ‘space constrained’ and will require a new post office. post,” he added.
No further details were provided on how this decision was made. In August, the Vail Daily requested a copy of this space-constraint study – as well as the one presumably conducted at the Avon Post Office – both from Boxrud and through the Freedom of Freedom Act. information.
However, those requests were denied, on the grounds that they are considered exempt from FOIA disclosure due to their proprietary nature, according to the agency’s response.
The exemption under which they fall, according to the letter, is intended to protect “commercial information, including trade secrets, whether or not obtained from someone outside the Postal Service, which, according to good commercial practice, would not be publicly disclosed”.
USPS real estate specialist Robb Groetzinger was assigned to the relocation process at the Gypsum Post Office, and according to Rietmann, they have been in contact, including Rietmann linking Groetzinger with local developers who have land holdings and development capacity.
As Gypsum progresses, progress on some other Post Office challenges in Eagle County remains somewhat stalled. While regional meetings have continued to take place with municipalities in Eagle County as well as other mountain towns, Avon and Vail have made little progress on some of their identified challenges.
In Avon, council member and Mayor Pro Tem Amy Phillips said a study of space constraints was also conducted at the Avon Post Office. However, city officials were told the location was not limited by space.
“When we pressed for details, none were given,” Phillips said.
In September, the Vail Daily sought confirmation of this study and results from the regional USPS spokesperson, but did not receive a response.
In Vail, rather than having a post office that voters and representatives deem too small for the community it serves, the city has identified that its space – which was previously used for regional delivery – may be too large. for the service it provides and could potentially be used more effectively to meet housing needs.
However, George Ruther, the city of Vail’s housing director, said he has yet to engage in discussions with the Postal Service about the matter.
“We reached out to the folks at the Vail Post Office in hopes of scheduling a meeting to discuss and better understand the future programming needs of the local Post Office,” Ruther said.
Ruther added that the idea behind the meeting would be to “collaborate on solutions that meet the needs of the Vail Post Office and the citizens of the Vail community, including better overall site utilization.”
“Our hopes are that through discussions with the Post Office, we may be able to create a solution to what we have been told is a challenge for all employers in the City of Vail, including the Post Office, the lack of housing for employees to live in,” Ruther said.