Lawsuit Filed to Protect Endangered Stamford, Connecticut Post Office

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn., Oct. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The Stamford post office on Atlantic Street was closed in a hurried fashion on September 20th to clear the way for a quiet sale to a developer who plans to tear down part of the historic building to make way for two twenty story luxury apartments, one of which would be located on the post office property.  The postal facility is on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. 

The Center for Art and Mindfulness, the National Post Office Collaborate and a post office customer filed a lawsuit in federal court in Connecticut on September 25th and requested a restraining order to stop the sale.   A restraining order was issued by Judge Vanessa Bryant on September 27 th that prohibits the sale of the historic building, but requires the plaintiff’s to post a $4.5 million dollar bond.  “This is the first case in which a restraining order has been issued in a challenge to a post office closure or relocation,” according to Drew Backstrand, a lawyer who is a Director of the Center for Art and Mindfulness.

The lawsuit alleges the postal service’s violation of several aspects of federal law and its own regulations relating to the closing of post offices (in this case done with 3 days advance notice and done in violation of notice and public meeting requirements applicable to the post office).  The sale of historic post office buildings has been occurring across America at an alarming rate as the result of postal downsizing.

Congress made it clear in the Postal Accountability Act of 2006 that the post office must reorganize by reducing its size as mail volume is declining.  At the same time  the post office was required to maintain its service level to postal customers and vigilantly protect national treasures like the new deal art in many post offices and the national historic buildings that are themselves architectural treasures.

The postal service’s management failed in its building liquidation program to devise a method of sale that property protects these architecturally significant buildings in a nondiscriminatory sales process which has resulted in the lawsuit.

“This architecturally important building must be preserved for use by the public as opposed to the uncertainty of becoming lost in the hands of a developer or other private owner, without consideration for the legacy it contains,” according to  Debra Sherwood, the Center’s Executive Director.

The Center for Art and Mindfulness is a Connecticut nonprofit organization established to operate as a community art center with exhibitions and an education component that includes mindfulness training.  While considering locations for the Center, the Post Office became a favored site.

The National Post office Collaborate is a national historic preservation organization, established to save historic post offices and their priceless art and architecture and the legacy of the post offices as promised in the Constitution, for the benefit of the people of the United States.

To help save the post office and to protect this endangered structure from the wrecking ball, and to obtain further information, please contact Debra Sherwood at the Center for Art and Mindfulness at 203-979-2963 or das651@msn.com or the National Post Office Collaborate at 415-987-7641 or on their website at www.post officecollaborate.com.  Tax deductible donations may be made to the National Post Office Collaborative at their web site or to the Center for Art and Mindfulness.