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Changes mulled for Leverett post office



Staff Writer
Thursday, February 01, 2018

LEVERETT — A building that has served as the town’s post office since the 1930s could soon have new owners.

But whether this will again put Leverett at risk of losing its post office, seven years after the U.S. Postal Service considered closing the location where people have had mail services for more than 160 years, is uncertain.

The small building at 7 Montague Road, on a .47-acre parcel next to Town Hall, was recently put on the market for a $189,900 asking price by 5 College Realtors.

Jacqui Zuzgo, the agent handling the sale on behalf of owners Gregg and Lynn Woodard, said she has since taken a deposit.

An advertisement described the property as a “charming building” with a potential for conversion into a single-family home, with a septic system installed in 2004 able to accommodate up to three bedrooms.

The building is accessible, with a ramp at the front, and also features a loading dock, a kitchenette and a half bath.

A lease with the post office, for $1,056 per month, runs through June 30, 2019, and can be renewed for $1,119.42 per month for another five years.

In 2011, the post office announced plans to eliminate its service in town, with residents being directed to the Sunderland post office.

Gregg Woodard said the property has been in his family for 85 years and he anticipates that the person he has a buy-sell agreement with will keep it a post office for at least the next 18 months.

He observed that in the 1970s there was an apartment in the back of the building. Woodard added that, as a general business-zoned parcel, a new owner could seek a beer and wine license and perhaps operate a small cafe.

Select Board member Julie Shively said there is concern about the sale and whether it might affect the post office, but town officials have taken no action.

“Doing something like buying the building would take a Town Meeting vote, and it is unclear where the money would come from,” Shively said.

Even so, at a recent board meeting residents suggested the town might acquire the property.

Dean Alfange, who lives in town center, said in an email that he and many of his neighbors are worried about the post office’s future.

“Its central location in town is an enormous convenience, and a place where neighbors frequently have a chance to run into one another and exchange information,” Alfange said.

Alfange said he would support Leverett purchasing the building, but understands the worries about the cost of buying and maintaining an additional town property.

While conversion to a residence is possible, being in the general business area would require a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals for a change in use, Shively said.

The town has had a post office since 1818, first operated by Jonathan Conant, who ran a store out of another building until 1842 when it transferred to the present location and Ephraim Reynolds ran it out of his home.

In 1932, thieves broke in and blew up the safe, causing the building to burn down. In the past, the post office was supplemented with a general store and gas station.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.