by Brian Orr
GARDNER- Gardner residents were shocked last Wednesday afternoon when the local post office was abruptly closed down, with the official reason being that it was structurally unsound. The Gardner Postmaster, Rhoda Northrup, got the word about the same time as the post office patrons. Until the matter is resolved, all mail service will be in the Walsenburg post office. Residents who are unable to get to Walsenburg to pick up their mail may send someone else to pick up their mail, providing they have a handwritten note stating that fact, with the person’s box number, and the designated picker-upper has a photo I.D.
Street delivery in Gardner, which normally starts out in Walsenburg anyway, will remain unaffected.
Al DeSarro, regional spokesperson for the postal service, said the problem arises from an annual inspection done of the building, which showed “significant problems, including exposed asbestos.” A building contractor was called in to double check, and his preliminary findings showed major structural problems, including bowing of the east wall of the building, and water leaking around the chimney, which was pushing another wall out. The contractor felt the building was so dangerous that an emergency suspension of service was enacted.
DeSarro said that the full report on the building is still pending, but it will remain closed for the interim.
An action like this, actully closing a post office, has to be reviewed and approved all the way up through the ranks to Washington, D.C., which means this will be moving at a frustratingly slow bureaucratic pace.
Once it is approved from D.C., a modular unit will be brought in and set up at the Gardner Fairgrounds for the duration, until something happens one way or the other with the original building.
Gardner resident Steve Wacterman says the new situation is a hassle, but not too bad for him, as either he or his wife Lana are in Walsenburg almost every day. He thinks the postal service should have seen this coming: “They’ve been doing renovations on this building for years- putting in windows and fixing counters. Suddenly, they have to close it in one day? Hopefully they’ll take care of it ASAP.”