Morris Street Post Office, back on chopping block, eyed as ‘centerpiece’ of town

The Morris Street post office in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Morris Street post office in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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The Morris Street post office in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Morris Street post office in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

TOWN 'CENTERPIECE' ? Mayor Tim Dougherty says the post office could be transformed. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
TOWN ‘CENTERPIECE’ ? Mayor Tim Dougherty says the post office could be transformed. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

Laying the cornerstone for the Morris Street post office in 2015. Photo courtesy of the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center at the Morristown & Township Library.
Laying the cornerstone for the Morris Street post office in 1915. Photo courtesy of the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center at the Morristown & Township Library.

“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.

 

The Morris Street post office under construction in 1916. Photo courtesy of the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center at the Morristown & Township Library.
The Morris Street post office under construction in 1916. Photo courtesy of the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center at the Morristown & Township Library.

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

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Photo Caption: “Laying the cornerstone for the Morris Street post office in 2015.” Hmm. They must have dressed up in clothing from 1915 (haha).

  2. So, the USPS is ‘considering moving its services from the downtown building’ to, ahem, where? What is the point of a hearing if there are no options under public consideration? Yes, we know the USPS is under considerable financial pressure, not least due to the limitations placed on it by Congress (and not placed in its competitors, FedEx, etc.), and restricted, also by Congress, as to what it can do to expand its services and improve its balance sheet. So, yes, it’s understood that closing a facility may seem to be an attractive option to save money but let’s frame the issue differently. And look at it from the perspective of the users. What services do they use? What services must they have? And how can the USPS effectively provide them? There is a reason it’s called the postal SERVICE! And, it’s supposed to be a public service.

    And, then, let’s have a conversation about the building, a magnificent structure, at the heart of Morristown. The fate of the building is, really, a separate question.

  3. Please do not close this post office. It is vital for seniors and people that do not drive. Ridgedale Avenue P.O. is not accessible to many people.

  4. Where would the post office operation be relocated to? We need a post office in town for our so called Transit Village and walkable community. The building should be preserved but I don’t agree with moving Town Hall to this location.

  5. A lot of familiar faces at that hearing.
    Still can’t understand why the postal services stopping renting space in that building for military recruiting offices, State representative’s offices, and choose to keep much of the building empty while the Ridgedale PO became more crowded and difficult to access.
    Lets return to an era, where some Common Sense prevails.

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