Proposed IL post office site generates friction

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Site on Rosemont Drive

By Reece Murphy

U.S. Postal Service officials got more feedback than expected from Indian Land residents Thursday, Aug. 31, during a raucous two-hour meeting about a proposed Panhandle post office.
The meeting at York Technical College’s Indian Land Center on Rosemont Drive drew a standing-room crowd of more than 80 people for the first step in the community feedback and solicitation process.
The USPS announced Aug. 15 that it wants to build a 15,000-square-foot, full service Indian Land post office on Rosemont Drive. The burgeoning community of about 20,000 residents is currently served by the Fort Mill post office and a small contract post office in a gas station.
Though residents have requested a proper Indian Land post office for years, most of the crowd at Thursday’s meeting was surprisingly dissatisfied with the current proposal.
“There was a lot more feedback than anticipated, which is a good thing,” USPS real estate specialist Kurtis Bullard said after the meeting. “But there’s definitely some concerns we need to address, and I’ve got to discuss this with my management….
“We’ve got to be patient here. Nothing is a done deal yet.”
Much of Thursday night’s blowback concerned the proposed location, an outparcel on Rosemont Drive across from the York Tech Indian Land Center leading into the Rosemont neighborhood.
Rosemont resident Tyler Price said that with the number of children in the neighborhood, his biggest concern with the location is that it would spur more cut-through traffic going the back way to busy Calvin Hall and Harrisburg roads.
“I don’t think we’d normally put a post office in front of a neighborhood,” Price said. “I know, we don’t own this land. There’s not even a sidewalk that goes fully up there. We’re going to have to spend our own money to build safety improvements there.
“This is a neighborhood road,” he said. “Even though we have some commercial up there at the start, it’s like putting a Walmart there, which is the only thing that would be worse than a post office.”
Most residents who questioned the proposed location said the post office would serve the community better if it were located farther south on U.S. 521, between CrossRidge Commercial Park and Jim Wilson Road or even farther south.
“South of Van Wyck Road and Six Mile Creek Road, they get their mail delivered by Lancaster,” said Sun City Carolina Lakes resident Willa Thiele. “All that area is up for sale. It’s all going to be developed into big housing units and eventually you’ll be delivering mail to that area too.
“If everything opening up is building 300 homes here, 1,000 homes there, 400, 500, it’s going to grow like you’ve never seen,” she said. “So it really needs to be farther down (U.S.) 521.”
Bullard said the post office had considered other sites, but they either didn’t fit the postal service’s criteria, weren’t operationally feasible or the talks stalled.
He said the postal service doesn’t build its own post offices any more, but instead prefers long-term leases in which the developer would build the post office.
The Rosemont location is at this point only proposed, Bullard said.
He said even though the postal service hadn’t sent out any formal requests for proposals, it is still seeking potential sites during the open-comment process.
To help, Lancaster County District 7 Councilman Brian Carnes, who attended the meeting with District 1 Councilman Terry Graham, spoke up and informed Bullard he sent four emails to developers as he sat in the meeting notifying them of the potential project.
“Anybody that wants to do business with the postal service, this is the opportunity, in the next 30 to 45 days, to submit an offer or proposal…,” Bullard said.
Among the other issues raised was whether or not the post office would serve only Indian Land, or deliver to Fort Mill, too.
Other residents wondered whether Walnut Creek residents served by Lancaster’s 29720 ZIP code would be able to switch to Indian Land’s 29707.
Manager of Post Office Operations Scott Cheesman, himself a Walnut Creek resident, said the Indian Land post office was intended to serve only the 29707 ZIP code, though it might have to service more area one day.
York Postmaster Tom Murray, an Indian Land resident, asked a question that got to the heart of Indian Land’s desire for its “own” post office: Would it be possible to change the postal service database to reflect 29707 as “Indian Land,” instead of “Fort Mill.”
“It’s usually not a problem to put ‘Indian Land,’ but if you’re buying a house, or something like that, and it says ‘Indian Land’ with 29707 and not ‘Fort Mill,’ there are questions,” Murray said. “Even if they don’t build a new post office here, I think that would help.”
After the meeting, Cheesman said he didn’t know the answer to Murray’s question since his expertise was in operations, but he said being a resident himself, he understood the concerns raised during the meeting.
”The passion for Indian Land I knew was there, but I didn’t really know how deep the passion was, and I respect that,” Cheesman said. “Being from this area, I understand traffic patterns, the roadways, concerns of the neighborhood.
“As an organization, safety is one of our core values… so obviously the safety of our customers is important,” he said. “I think there were a lot of good comments. This was a good meeting.”
Bullard said the community feedback and solicitation of sites will continue for the next 30 days. He said postal officials will then analyze the comments and data, and management will make a decision on how to proceed.
Once that is done, the U.S. Postal Service will send a determination letter to County Council for posting at the Lancaster County Administration Building and the Fort Mill post office, followed by a 30-day appeals process.
After that, a decision will be made or the process will be opened up again.
To comment or enter site proposals, contact Bullard at (336) 544-3828 or (336) 430-4937; email Michael.K.Bul- lard@usps.gov; or mail to Michael K. Bullard at U.S. Postal Service Headquarters Facility, P.O. Box 27497, Greensboro, N.C. 27498-1103.