LIHUE — While they do not want the Lihue post office on Rice Street to close, some Kauai residents say the building could serve as a community center.
“It’d be a beautiful thing for the Kauai Museum to have rotating resident artists display their work in the building,” said Leah Orr, who was at the Lihue post office Tuesday.
Lihue resident Sharon Claiborne said a center would be a good option to fill the building, but she doesn’t want to see the post office change locations.
“It’s part of the community and I’d rather see it stay a post office,” she said. “A senior center is fine, but it shouldn’t be knocked down.”
In January, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to close the Rice Street post office — citing parking and access issues. Operations would be absorbed with an annex facility at 3230 Kapule Hwy., near the airport.
The plan was met with uproar from the community, who say the post office is a staple, a gathering point, and a place to talk story.
The public has until Thursday to submit testimony about the proposed relocation.
“This is a historic building, and I really try to respect tradition,” Orr said. “I’m a neighborhood person — I like walking and being grounded.”
Robyn Herbig, of Kalaheo, agreed.
“I like the post office where it is. It’s part of Lihue and convenient to get to.”
No matter the fate of the building, traffic, parking and pedestrian safety need to be taken into account, Herbig said.
“There needs to be enough parking,” she said. “At least with the post office, people run in and out. If something else opens, people will be parked for hours.”
The Spanish Mission-style building was built in 1939 and is one of only two post offices in Hawaii constructed during the Great Depression, according to the Historic Hawaii Foundation.
During a February meeting, Dean Cameron, Pacific area retail specialist for USPS, said since the announcement, USPS learned about the Lihue Town Core Revitalization Project, which could alleviate parking concerns.
Following the announcement of the planned closure, a grassroots effort called Save our Post Office began on Kauai. The group has delivered its message of post office preservation by door-to-door canvassing, a social media campaign and postcard writing events.
And, on March 13, leaders of the effort, including Pat Griffin, president of the Lihue Business Association, met at the post office to send over 100 coconuts to Cameron, to show USPS they were serious about keeping the post office where it is.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura introduced a resolution urging USPS officials to keep the Rice Street location open. That resolution will be discussed today at the Kauai County Council meeting.
The building needs to be sold at fair market value, according to a notice from USPS.
If the Rice Street location does close, Griffin hopes officials expand services at Kapule Highway.
“There’s automated services at post offices at the Mainland, where people can weigh their package and get postage themselves,” she said. “It wouldn’t take a lot to expand services at (the Kapule Highway) location. If we think creatively, we’ll all be better off.”
Comments can be mailed to: Dean Cameron, United States Postal Service, 1300 Evans Ave. Suite 200, San Francisco, Ca. 94