Customers mixed on new post office

Posted Nov. 01, 2010, at 9:31 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Several customers of the new Bangor post office, located in the former District Court building at the corner of Hammond and Franklin streets, said Monday they wish it had stayed in the temporary location at the Broadway Shopping Center.

“It’s an inconvenience.” Tim Harris of Bangor said of the new facility, which opened to the public on Monday. “Now parking is limited. Over by Hannaford there was a whole big parking lot.”

Other patrons found the new facility attractive, and a post office official said it may take some people time to get used to it.

The post office was located in the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building on Harlow Street for 40 years. When that location closed in May, the post office moved temporarily to Broadway while renovations were under way at the former District Court building.

Some customers at the new facility echoed Harris’ concerns about the limited amount of parking.

“It’s good they have the Hammond Street spots, too,” said Gerald Ballanger of Brewer. “I’m sure they’ll be needed.”

Richard Curtis, an electronic technician for the post office who was there to hook up a printer, said he thinks the building is beautiful.

But “the access is terrible, as everyone knows,” Curtis said. “People like the Broadway location because of parking. The parking here is tight.”

According to Mark Hanscom, Maine’s post office activation coordinator, there are 30 spots reserved for U.S. Postal Service customers at the new facility. He said because parking is adjacent to the building, it’s safer for customers because they don’t have to cross the street as they had to at the Harlow Street location. Hanscom also said the sidewalks are heated, which will make it easier and safer in winter.

“It looks nice,” Brandon Moore of Bangor said. “It’s a little farther from my house than the other location [on Harlow Street], but I’m sure it’s closer for others, so I can’t complain.”

While many customers expressed concern about parking, some said they preferred the new location.

“It works for me,” said Leslie Latour of Bangor. “It’s close to everything I need — the Y, the downtown, all of it.”

Ralph Caruso of Hampden said the new location is really convenient, because he works around the corner. Caruso said he doesn’t have a post office box, but frequently uses the post office to mail packages and letters.

“It’s as good as the other location, probably better,” Caruso said. “Parking is less in the middle of the street, and Harlow Street had traffic all the time.”

All of the customers interviewed Monday agreed that the new building is attractive.

“Everything is shiny and new,” Hanscom said as customers exchanged their old post office box keys for new ones.

Hanscom said the red, white and blue color theme at the new post office is “more pleasing to the eye” than the colors at the earlier locations. The new building also has parcel lockers, which weren’t available in old locations, and new mailboxes, according to Hanscom.

“There’s been lots of positive comments — lots of excited people who are excited to have it back downtown,” Hanscom said.

Hanscom acknowledged that many people don’t adjust well to change, and that it’s hard to please everyone.

“Anytime you move a facility like this, it’s a process and a change,” he said. “As soon as everyone gets used to it, they’ll be happy with the outcome.”

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