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Return to sender

by Sheila Gardner
Staff Writer

In a sternly worded letter, the Town of Minden is demanding the U.S. Postal Service explain what happened to plans for a new post office.

Officials also want the agency to reimburse the seller of the property who is out $160,000 in engineering and planning fees now that the project appears dead.

The town board sent the letter Nov. 4 to Shaun E. Mossman, postal service district manager in Las Vegas.

“This whole process was badly mishandled by the upper echelon U.S. postal officials who did not have the courtesy or courage to come to our town and tell us the project was canceled,” the letter said.

“One of our property owners, Mr. Duane Deverill, is entitled to be compensated for his out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the treatment he and the town of Minden received after years of promises and encouragement from the United States Postal Service.”

The board claims Deverill was encouraged by the post office to expand the original parcel to meet requirements and incurred $160,000 in engineering and county fees.

Postal service spokesman David Rupert said Thursday the agency would not be reimbursing Deverill.

“Postal projects often draw the interest of a number of interested parties who all vie for our partnership. These parties may or may not invest money to meet local, state and federal zoning and site preparation requirements. As in any real estate transaction, owners spend funds to make their property attractive and our projects carry the same inherent investment risk. The Postal Service also spends considerable time and funds for ‘due diligence,’ etc., to prepare a site for transfer of ownership,” Rupert said.

The postal service chose a site to pursue in Minden, but those negotiations were never completed, Rupert said.

“Among other things, we could not agree on a purchase price at fair market value, and a final contract was never executed for the property,” Rupert said.

“Current nationwide fiscal restraints prevent us from moving forward on nearly all expansion or development plans in fiscal year 2009, including this one,” he said. “Unfortunately, any site work or costs incurred with bidding on any postal project cannot be borne by the postal service.”

The postal service reported Thursday a 2008 fiscal year loss of $2.8 billion and a decline of 9.5 billion pieces of mail.

“I hope that paints the perspective of the financial situation we’re in,” Rupert said. “It has nothing to do with the town or the property; it’s just in tight times. Nobody is going to bail us out. We have to stand on our own two feet.”

The town also asked the Douglas County Commission to restore Deverill’s previous development rights before he made the changes to the 1.7-acre site at Monte Vista and Ironwood at the entrance to Winhaven.

Postal officials announced a new facility for Minden in January and began the search for property to accommodate an 8,020-square-foot building that would double the size of the current structure.

The Minden site, at Highway 395 and Ninth Street, has been leased by the post office since 1974.