By Kevin Coughlin
The Morris Street Post Office, which the Postal Service tried to close in 2012 amid vociferous local opposition, is on the chopping block once again.
This time, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty envisions the century-old structure being reborn as the town’s “centerpiece.”
“It’s a great, historic building, an amazing site that should be the centerpiece of our town,” he said on Saturday. He declined to elaborate, however, saying it’s premature until the Postal Service spells out its plans.
The Postal Service is “considering relocating retail services” from the post office at One Morris St., according to a notice posted there. A public information session is scheduled for 6 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in the seniors center at town hall.
Postal Service spokespersons could not be reached immediately for comment.
Councilwoman Alison Deeb said she is concerned the town might try to move its operations to the post office, increasing traffic congestion around the historic Morristown Green.
“All I heard was the the Mayor wants to relocate the downtown post office and move town hall there. In place of town hall, he wants to build townhouses and a parking garage,” Deeb said.
There are “absolutely no plans” to build a parking deck or anything else at 200 South St., the site of town hall, the Mayor said.
Four yeas ago, he led a petition drive opposing closure of the facility, arguing it was more convenient for senior citizens than the post office on busy Ridgedale Avenue in Morris Township.
But if the Postal Service insists on selling the Morris Street post office, he said, the structure’s history, location and 27,000 square feet of space make it a structure worth preserving.
“I love the historic feel of the building,” said Dougherty.
“At one point, this had to be a magnificent building. It needs a lot of tender loving care. But it would be an amazing opportunity to preserve the site in a way that benefits the entire community,” he said.
In 2012, the Postal Service spared 3,700 post offices, including Morris Street, by reducing hours at 13,000 mostly rural stations.
One of the most outspoken opponents of the closure plan at that time was retired Morristown Postmaster Bob Tracey. The veteran of World War II and the Korean War was 86 and in failing health, and died later that year. But he mustered the energy for this speech:
Video: Bob Tracey defends the Morris Street post office in 2012