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The motto of the US Postal Service is permanently inscribed in the minds of most Americans. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
This creed is a powerful reminder of this all-American institution, and its role in our nation’s history. With its vast tributaries of branches connecting our country, most of us always assumed that the post office will be around to bring first class mail and packages to our doorstep . . . well, forever.
But when I returned to my hometown of Westport Connecticut last summer, I learned that both of the town’s taxpayer-funded post office buildings had been sold to private real estate developers. Many wanted to know why, so I began to look into the story behind the story.
What I learned was eye-opening and should concern ALL Americans. But first, a little bit of history about the former post office building on 154 Post Road.
The Westport Post office was created as a result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The post office building was designed by Lansing C Holden, a World War I flying ace and war hero. When he returned from the war, he followed in his father’s footsteps as an architect. Shortly after designing the Westport Post Office building, he died in a plane crash in 1938.
In 1933, the Postal Service purchased the property at 154 Post Road for $35,000 and spent $108,000 constructing the building. For almost 75 years, the Post Office was a source of pride for the local merchants, creating foot traffic as an anchor business for the local economy. Then, suddenly, in December 2009, the Post Office announced that it would sell both Westport buildings.
But it turns out that the real story is that the post office may be the victim of toxic Congressional politics. Investigative reporter Peter Byrne broke this scandal wide open in his book, “Going Postal: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap.”
At the outset, the Westport Post Office building was appraised at $3.6 million. Yet this iconic limestone and brick building was sold for just $2.4 million to developers from Atlanta.
Was a bad economy to blame? If so, then why did the building right next door sell one year later for $11 million?
Sadly, the Westport Post Office officially closed on the first business day of January 2012. The local merchants were immediately hurt by the loss of the foot traffic, and several businesses were forced to relocate to other downtown locations.
So where’s the post office now? They closed two post offices in Westport and jammed both of them into a strip mall. So I’m reminded of the line from that famous Joni Mitchell song. “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”
In part 2 of my exclusive report, I’ll reveal some shocking conflicts of interest that go all the way to the very top of the U.S. Senate. In the meantime, I call your attention to the battle to save the Stamford, Connecticut post office from private real estate developers.
Please join the fight! I urge you to check out the following resources — and get involved!
Please save our post office buildings by contributing to the National Post Office Collaborate, a not-for-profit which is selflessly headed up by Executive Director Jacquelyn McCormick. They are working to save many post offices across the country, including Berkeley, California!
Learn how Congress is trying to profit from selling our post office buildings to private interests by reading investigative reporter Peter Byrne’s compelling e-book, Going Postal.
Here’s a great website by NYU Professor Steve Hutkins asking us all to Save The Post Office. This was my original inspiration for the story.
The nation’s leading investigative reporter on this scandal is Angela Carella of the Stamford Advocate. No other major market reporter has covered this astoundingly important subject and we’re lucky to have her covering the issues critical to Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Also, the terrific photograph of the Westport Post Office Building just before it shut its doors forever was taken by WestportNow’s talented photographer Dave Matlow and is used with permission.