New post office nearly ready |

New post office nearly ready

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Basalt post office’s long-awaited move from its cute but cramped quarters downtown to the new building befitting its location at the town’s entrance will be made by August.

Construction of the new $3 million building should be completed in July, according to Craig Ballard, design and construction project manager.

Basalt Postmaster Carol Baka said her staff needs about three weeks after construction is finished to customize the new facility. That will probably push the opening into August.

Rest assured, the post office staff wants to make the transition as soon as possible.

“We’re all looking forward to moving into this new post office,” said Baka. “We’re stepping on one another’s toes over here.”

Postal operations outgrew their current site at 144 Midland Ave. years ago, but funds weren’t made available for a new facility until Basalt’s latest growth spurt.

The old site has 1,900 customer boxes and a total square footage of 2,061 square feet, Baka said. The new site will have 4,500 boxes and a total of 14,163 square feet.

Postal planners said the 4,500 boxes should handle growth for the next decade. More boxes can be added at the new facility, as well.

“I know the service is going to be improved,” said Baka. The larger space will allow her staff of 13 to use better equipment. Plus the move should boost morale, she said. Nicer than most Ballard, who is currently working on eight new post offices in Colorado, said this might be one of the nicer facilities the agency has constructed in recent years.

“We did put extra effort into the facility that we normally don’t do,” he said. “We did work very closely, more so than normal, with the local City Council.”

The extra effort, he acknowledged, was made at the insistence of town officials. The council and town government staff demanded concessions from the Postal Service on location and architectural style of the building.

That effort, headed by former Councilman Glenn Rappaport, yielded exemplary results. The new post office already looks like a stately structure due to use of a deep-colored brick. It will feature a pedestrian-oriented plaza out front.

The post office is on the Midland Avenue extension at the entrance to town and visible from Highway 82. The extra effort was justified, given the building’s important location at the entrance to town, said the Postal Service’s Ballard. Finishing touches Ballard said general contractor Tellstar Construction of Albuquerque is working on interior finish work and must still complete the landscaping. The project was initially scheduled to be finished by the end of June.

Postmaster Baka said her staff will stay at 13 despite the move to a larger facility. Staffing will increase as Basalt grows, she said.

Once the new facility is completed, postal customers will keep their same box numbers, according to Baka. A key for new boxes will be placed in the old boxes before the existing facility is closed.

Baka’s best guess now is that the new facility will be operating by the third week of August.

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