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For the week of August 18th, 1999 through August 24th, 1999

New post office could soon be a reality

Express Staff Writer

If things go well, Ketchum will have a new post office on the corner of Fourth Street and Second Avenue, behind Perry’s restaurant, by the end of 2000, U.S. Postal Service representatives said last Wednesday.

At a special Ketchum City Council meeting, several Postal Service representatives presented preliminary architectural plans for the new structure. The building would consume most of the western half of the block and use a rugged, yet government-like, architectural style. Across Fourth Street, the Postal Service would construct a 30-car parking lot adjacent to the Ski Tek building.

The idea behind the meeting, explained Postal Service architect David Miller, was to find out if the city’s officials favor the proposed plans. They did.

Members of the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission and city council praised the plans. They requested only minor modifications to certain infringements to the city’s rights-of-way.

Councilman David Hutchinson said his biggest concern is the alley on the east side of the lot. Proposed sidewalks, parallel parking slots and refuse and recycling bin locations infringe on the alley too much, he said.

Miller said those problems can easily be mitigated.

Now the Postal Service will run the plans through a gamut of federal approval stages that should culminate in its Washington, D.C. headquarters approval.

According to Postal Service project manager Russell Rainey, the Postal Service has only a short time to approve the plans. Because the lot has not yet been purchased, the agency will need to act fast.

An agreement with the lot’s owners will expire in early September. At that time, if plans are not yet approved, the Postal Service may have to go back to its site selection process.

Rainey said this is the best option that has arisen since the Postal Service started looking at sites for a new post office in Ketchum nearly 10 years ago.

"For the year I have been involved, we weren’t sure it was going to happen," Rainey said. "It’s been a long, hard road for the city and for us. We now have a very narrow window of opportunity to get this done in Ketchum."

Rainey said the design and site-selection carried out thus far have been funded by seed money. The remainder of the project will need the Postal Service’s headquarters approval before funds for land purchase and construction are granted.

Rainey did not reveal the project’s estimated total cost.


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