The City of Langley and United States Postal Service are still a long way off from reaching an agreement on access to the post office.
Disagreement arose over access to the lot after cones and cars were placed to obstruct access to the post office parking lot during high traffic events such as Choochokam Arts Festival and the Ragnar Relay this summer. The city wanted to ensure access for the public, while the post office wanted to ensure safety for its drivers.
Langley owns the property and building, and leases it to a private company, which then subleases it to the United States Postal Service as a post office. While a typical landlord-tenant relationship would give the owner more authority, Mayor Fred McCarthy said the federal government retains more autonomy in how it uses leased spaces.
“What we’re trying to balance here is the safety concerns of drivers loading their trucks and the rights of citizens of Langley to access their post office,” said McCarthy, in a Tuesday morning interview.
City staff, including the city’s contracted attorney, met with the Langley postmaster and a Postal Service attorney Aug. 11 to discuss the issue. McCarthy received a proposal from the Postal Service in late August, though the terms were not agreeable to either him or the council.
At the heart of the city’s argument is that it paid nearly $23,000 to build a ramp from Third Street, which resembles a wide parking lot, to the post office lot. It was a necessary project while Second Street was being redesigned and the primary vehicular access to the post office was closed.
In the proposal, the federal post office wanted to restrict access times, to erect a gate to close off the Third Street ramp and have the city split the cost, post signs for parking spots and utilize city police to enforce parking rules. The hour restriction proposed would keep out non-Postal Service vehicles and emergency access between 5:30 a.m. and noon, then from 3 to 7:30 p.m.
Most of those requests were rejected by the city council and staff, McCarthy said. Signage will have to go through the city’s Design Review Board. The hours did not seem reasonable, said the mayor, and neither did the offer to split the gate’s cost.
“We don’t see anybody loading a truck at 5:30 in the morning or 7:30 at night,” McCarthy said.
“We think we’ve spent our fair share of that,” he added. “The majority of the gate costs should be born by the post office.”
Langley is working on a counter offer, and will meet in executive session with its contracted attorney at the Sept. 21 council meeting.