EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority is now proposing a 30-day extension for the U.S. postal service's lease on its post office in downtown Eau Claire.
It comes as Redevelopment Authority members say their patience is quickly running out.
In a unanimous vote this morning at City Hall, the Redevelopment Authority proposed the extension for the USPS.
"I move that the lease be extended for a thirty day period," says Redevelopment Authority member Jeff Halloin who proposed the postal service’s lease be extended for 30 days at its current downtown location on North Barstow Street.
Although, with the proposal come penalties says Mike Schatz, with the city of Eau Claire. "We are requesting that the rent double for the month of October, that there be a penalty if they aren't out by the end of October, and that any past taxes and rent are made current before they're able to leave," says Schatz.
The rent at the postal services current location will increase from $5,000 to $10,000 a month says Schatz, also saying it will be charged $3,000 a day if not moved out by the 31st.
"We like having the post office downtown, but we need them to move along and be a partner in this process of redeveloping that district and meeting the parking needs of the people that live there and work there," says Schatz.
That district being the North Barstow Redevelopment District, which Schatz says the city can't begin working on until the postal service moves, delaying the construction of a parking ramp. Schatz says the penalties included in the proposal will cover any potential costs from delaying construction.
“Hopefully this is a situation that will help them,” says Schatz, “but not impact our abilities to move forward too."
And Halloin says while the Redevelopment Authority and city like the postal services presence downtown, the Redevelopment Authority's patience is wearing thin.
“I hope it is abundantly clear to them now that they need to finish this move with far more urgency then they have done, and this is the last measure of patience they are going to receive,” says Halloin.
But, the postal service has yet to agree to the proposal. Stacy St. John with the USPS says, "The United States Postal Service was offered a lease extension for thirty days and that's being taken into consideration for the United States postal service."
The postal service originally wanted a 6-month extension. The redevelopment authority rejected that request earlier this month. Then, the postal service asked for a 60-day extension, leading up to today's meeting.
The Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority has agreed to extend the U.S postal services lease in downtown Eau Claire for 30 days.
They met at 7:30 A.M. on Friday, August 29th to consider the proposal; similar to the one rejected just a week and a half ago.
The postal services wanted a 60 day extension.
Instead of $5,000 for rent, this agreement will double rent to $10,000 for the month of October. Mike Schatz, the Economic Development Administrator says the increase is due to potential costs with delaying the construction of the new parking ramp and meeting the needs of the North Barstow Redevelopment District.
If the post office is not out by October 31, it will be forced to pay $3,000 each additional day.
The lease for the building on North Barstow Street originally ended September 30th.
The postal service says mail service will not be affected.
The board that recently rejected a post office request to extend its lease is now scheduled to meet again about a similar proposal.
The Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority is scheduled to consider a 60-day lease extension from the U.S. Postal Service on Friday morning. It will decide after discussing terms and conditions of a potential lease extension with city staff in closed session. The agenda for the special meeting was released Wednesday.
On August 20, the Redevelopment Authority unanimously rejected the postal service's request to extend its lease of the building at 126 N. Barstow Street in Eau Claire by six months. The lease ends on September 30. After that vote, Economic Development Administrator Mike Schatz said the board made the decision because it wanted to solve a parking crunch in the North Barstow neighborhood, and get started on a parking ramp proposed for the property.
On Thursday, USPS Communications Specialist Stacy St. John told WEAU 13 News the postal service requested the extension because the facility on 200 block of E. Madison Street will not be finished until January. She said the postal service would need to "postalize" the facility, which includes installing new post office boxes there, cabinetry, and anything else it would need to set up as a retail location and dispatch mail that comes into the area. When asked how a two-month extension would help the USPS, St. John said she could not comment, and that once the meeting is finished, the USPS would realize the terms of the decision.
If this extension proposal is rejected, St. John stressed that there would be no impact on mail delivery in the area. She said the USPS would likely need to discontinue its retail services for downtown Eau Claire. It would also have to move its post office boxes to the USPS processing facility on Hogarth Street in Eau Claire.
"That's just an early plan as to what we may have to do," she said. "That would be the nearest location for us to be able to culminate our PO box customers."
The N. Barstow Street post office currently has more than 1,000 post office boxes rented. St. John said there is public access at the Hogarth Street processing facility at its Bulk Mail Acceptance Entrance. She also said the plant is not scheduled for consolidation in 2015.
The USPS recently held a "service talk" with its workers. St. John said it was to let them know the postal service is talking with the City of Eau Claire to come up with a solution. She said the Northland District Manager and several other workers are in "ongoing talks" with the city. The Redevelopment Authority is scheduled to hold its special meeting at 7:30 a.m. Friday in City Council Chambers. We'll let you know what the RDA decides Friday on WEAU 13 News.