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Post office mobile unit shutting down

Photo by Nelson Oliveira

A customer at the post office's mobile unit on Pine Street in New Canaan Friday morning, Feb. 14, 2014. U.S. Postal Service officials said the truck is closing Saturday, March 1, and customers will be able to go to the 90 Main St. post office for all mailing services starting Monday.

The New Canaan Post Office's mobile unit on Pine Street is closing Saturday, the U.S. Postal Service said Friday.

The post office temporary location at 90 Main St. will begin offering retail services on Monday, March 3.

The post office shut down operations at 2 Pine St., where it was for more than 50 years, on Jan. 18. Since then, customers have been picking up their mail at the Main Street site while a truck with two service windows has been offering retail and mailing services on the corner of Park and Pine streets. The Main Street site has been under reconfiguration so it can accommodate all mailing services.

USPS officials have said they are still committed to finding a permanent location in New Canaan, but several customers and town officials have criticized the way the transition is being handled.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tucker Murphy, who has fielded calls from unhappy customers in the past few weeks, said this month that the move out of Pine Street has been very disorganized. She also said she doesn't believe the Main Street location is really temporary.

In a press release issued Friday, USPS spokesman Christine Dugas said postal service officials "continue to diligently search for a permanent site."

"We continue our commitment to the New Canaan community to provide a permanent Post Office in New Canaan," USPS Connecticut Valley District Manager David Mastroianni said in the release. "We appreciate the support we have received from town officials and our customers during this challenging transition."

The closing of the mobile unit might reduce some of the criticism. Murphy, for instance, has said the truck is inconvenient, especially during inclement weather conditions.

However, parking by the Main Street site has also been a hassle. After numerous complaints to town officials about the lack of parking in the area, the Police Commission agreed Feb. 3 to allow three new 15-minute parking spots right in front of the location. The area coincides with a loading zone from 7 to 11 a.m. It is unclear whether there would be enough parking in the area now that the site will offer all mailing services.

If a deal for a permanent site is in the near future, it still would take months to "postalize" that space, as a USPS spokesman has said. In other words, the post office would have to consider factors such as loading and parking capacities, insurance needs and water availability.

The Main Street location now will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday for retail services. The box hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Once construction is completed, the box area will be open 24 hours a day.

"Services at the 90 Main Street site will include state of the art swipe-and-go mobile postal checkout services, allowing simple transactions such as stamp purchases, acceptance scans, and Priority Mail postage labels to be performed separate from a traditional window unit," Dugas wrote in the press release. "A self -service kiosk, where customers can send mail and packages, buy stamps and perform other postal services will be added in the near future and will also be available 24 hours per day. "

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson

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