Accident at downtown Puyallup post office opened door for complaints
Let’s clear the air: The Puyallup post office is not closing.
There are no plans to do so, according to Ernie Swanson, communications director for the United States Postal Service.
In fact, Swanson’s at a loss as to why people think there are.
“I don’t know how such rumors got started,” he told The Herald in an email.
Still, they continue to spread, even after The Herald reported on the same rumors in 2011.
Jim Kastama, former state senator and current city councilman whose district includes the post office off 2nd Street downtown, offered some insight as to why that might be.
“When I was in the Legislature this rumor came up because (USPS) really conducts most of the service on South Hill,” he said.
Most of the mail is now taken and processed there, he said.
But there wasn’t — and still aren’t — any plans to close the downtown post office. In fact, Kastama wants to make sure it sticks around as the city looks at developing downtown.
“We are looking at a lot of creative ideas on how to develop that property,” he said. “It could make a great location for many types of structures. But we want to assure that the character of the post office is always preserved.”
The character isn’t as charming as it could be, said Kastama.
That’s where the handrail comes in.
In July 2018, a car lost control and hit the building, taking out the metal railing and a bronze statue of a driver.
It wasn’t until February, about seven months after the wreck, that a temporary handrail was installed. A permanent one was set to be installed within the next month, but March came and went.
Swanson told The Herald that the contractor fell through, delaying the completion of the handrail.
Some thought the wait was “ridiculous” and contacted their legislators.
Sue Evans was one of them — a Puyallup resident who has a P.O. box at the Post Office.
“So many elderly people go to that post office — disabled people use that ramp,” Evans said. “There was so much jaggedness from that broken railing and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s such a hazard. I can’t believe they’re not on that immediately.’”
She contacted Lauren Adler, deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Denny Heck. Adler said Heck’s office received multiple inquires about the exterior damage and reached out to the post office asking for an update on repairs, seeing the damage as a safety risk and a challenge for those who rely on the ADA ramp.
“Rep. Heck recognizes the historical importance of the downtown Puyallup Post Office and how the building serves as an anchor in the city’s downtown core,” Adler said in an email statement to The Herald. “It is simply common sense to have the building repaired as soon as possible.”
Swanson said on April 16 the new handrail is expected to be completed within two to three weeks.
For many, concerns about the handrail speak to a larger frustration: the look of the building itself.
Kastama said he has issues about how “unkempt” the property is, saying the benches and exterior don’t seem to get cleaned on a regular basis.
“I feel like it’s not treated how it should be,” Kastama said. “It breaks my heart to see how in disrepair it is. It’s not in the pristine conditions that this community would like it to be.”
Puyallup Main Street Association president Kerry Yanasak’s office is near the post office. He said he’s received questions about exterior maintenance of the property.
In February, he suggested to post office employees that a service group tend to the property.
“I offered to be a liaison for this as it was certainly in the interest of all of us to see our beautiful post office well maintained and attractive once again,” Yanasak wrote on Facebook.
Swanson said there’s a contract with a landscaping company to maintain the property and that beauty bark has recently been provided.
The Puyallup Post Office was built in 1935, according to a cornerstone on the building. It is not located on a local or state historical register.