At the Township Committee meeting on March 2, Mayor Vic DeLuca queried Township Attorney Roger Desiderio on the status of a memorandum related to the lease expirations on the property and the building housing U.S. Post Office operations in Maplewood Village.
Desiderio confirmed that he was finalizing the memo to U.S. Post Office representatives to advise them that "time is runing out" on their lease.
Although the exact end date of the leases [there are two separate leases: one in which the Town leases the property to the Finkel family and one in which the Finkel family leases the building to the Post Office] is November 9, 2013, the Township will be asking the Post Office to vacate the location by March 19, 2012—the 55th anniversary of the signing of the lease.
After the meeting, DeLuca explained further that the Township still wanted the Post Office to have a retail operation in the Village. "We certainly will work with them to make sure there is a presence, even if automated," said DeLuca.
However, the Township is desirous that the sorting operations be moved out of the Village. Besides reducing postal traffic, that move would free up numerous parking spaces in a prime retail area.
The letter is being sent as a courtesy, said DeLuca. "It's not a requirement to notify them now, but a common courtesy." DeLuca also stressed that the Township wants to start planning for future development of the property.
How responsive the Post Office will be to the memo is another matter. Just ask Deputy Mayor Fred Profeta.
When Profeta was mayor of Maplewood, he worked to get the U.S. Post Office to move its sorting operations out of Maplewood Village to a "more suitable" location at the Union Tool site on Rutgers Street ahead of the lease expiration date. Profeta had meetings with a U.S. Post Office representative and Senator Frank Lautenberg's aides in Newark in 2004. Nothing came of it.
In 2006, after his election, Senator Robert Menendez got involved through request by Profeta. Profeta traveled to Washington for a meeting. Menendez also facilitated a meeting with postal representatives, members of his staff and Maplewood Township representatives in Maplewood.
"The plan was that instead of waiting until 2013, let's be proactive," said Profeta. "Let's get the mail handling out, free up parking and move operations to the Springfield Avenue area."
The Post Office liked the concept, according to Profeta, but would never act. "I spent years on this," said Profeta.
Now, one way or another, the U.S. Post Office will need to vacate by the end of the lease.