WINTHROP — More than two and a half years after the Winthrop Post Office was destroyed by fire, its replacement is expected to open by Oct. 1.

That move will put the temporary postal facility that area residents have been using for months out of business.

“We call it ‘the tube,’” said Postmaster Scott Allarie. “It is like a little submarine with no windows.”

The narrow, gooseneck box trailer provided postal services to town residents while the Main Street post office was under construction, but it is bouncy and lacks elbow room. 

“I came here once, I think it was in the winter time,” said Karen Cote, who was picking up a package that was too large for her mailbox recently.

“It was freezing in there,” Cote said. “I did not know how they were doing it.”

Joanne Leighton, who has been receiving her mail through a box office for around 30 years, has been frustrated using the mobile unit. 

Leighton said that she had a motor vehicle accident while using that site; no one was hurt, but she had to replace her driver’s door. Parking was easier at the Main Street post office, she added.

“Lets get rid of this, OK?” she said. 

The tube’s days appear to be numbered. Steve Doherty, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said the final walk through date of the new building has been scheduled for Sept. 17. 

“The grand opening date would be shortly after that,” Doherty said, “before the beginning of October.”

Fire broke out on Feb. 21, 2017, destroying the seven-year-old red brick building. Workers saw smoke coming out of the ceiling tile and heard crackling noises coming from the attic and were able to evacuate the building safely; the post office had not yet opened for the day when the fire was reported.

The exact cause of the blaze was not determined; however, it was ruled accidental and probably was caused by mechanical or electrical malfunction. 

Until a temporary office could be opened following the fire, residents initially received their mail at the Manchester Post Office on Readfield Road. Then a Post Office on Wheels was deployed in Winthrop for six months.

Mail sent to physical addresses served by the Winthrop post office has been sorted at the Augusta Post Office.

More recently, retail mail services and post office boxes have operated out of the mobile unit beside Van der Brew on Summer Street. 

Leighton said she is skeptical about whether the post office will reopen when post office officials say.  

“They say next month, the new one is supposed to open, but I’m not holding my breath.”

The Kennebec Journal reported in August 2017 that the USPS would reopen in the fall of 2018, though the timeline for the work had not been established.

Dougherty said Friday that the contract for the project was awarded at the end of September 2018, and the completion target date the contractor made was on target. 

Doherty said patrons should expect no delay in services between when the temporary facility closes and the Main Street building reopens. 


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