A branch of the U.S. Postal Service housed on the eastern edge of the University of Idaho campus is looking for a new location before the end of June as the university has declined to renew its lease on a space behind the university bookstore.

UI spokeswoman Jodi Walker said the university has not identified a use for the space yet, but the school administration is always looking for additional room to grow school services and ending the lease with the post office frees up valuable space. While she admits the space is a bit “funky” as it was designed with a post office in mind, she said the university believes it can identify better uses for the address that more directly aligns with the school’s needs.

“In looking at the post office and the usage of it, it’s not part of our university workflow or anything that provides a particular benefit to the university itself,” she said. “Our mail system doesn’t go through there, our residence halls receive their mail at the residence halls.”

Walker said the current location is convenient in isolated circumstances — like finding a place to mail Christmas cards where there isn’t a long line — but the on-campus site does not provide much by way of additional benefit to the university directly. Many university employees said they have used the site’s services rarely, if at all. Some professed to be unaware of the branch location altogether.

“It occurs to me now that I have seen something about the postal service when I’ve driven around the bookstore to get to a parking space but it never registered as something that I would do anything with,” said Heather Fisher, administrative coordinator for the UI’s Department of Plant Sciences. “We have our campus mail service and there’s a form that I fill out online and I plunk stuff in our little campus mail thing and they process it — so I don’t have a need as a departmental person to do anything different.”

USPS spokesman Ernie Swanson said it is not abnormal for a community of Moscow’s size to have two post offices — especially when those communities are connected to a university. He said having a space close to campus gives postal workers an additional facility to sort and process mail before delivery to addresses on and off campus.

If they are unable to find a suitable location by the end of June, Swanson said the on-campus post office would be co-located in the same facility as Moscow’s other post office at 220 East Fifth Street — but such an arrangement promises to be overcrowded.

Swanson said the lease concludes June 30 and the USPS is hoping to secure a new location as close as possible to its current address at 704 Deakin St. before that date.

“We need to have space for retail operation and we also need work room floor space for our carriers to prepare the mail for delivery,” Swanson said. “It wouldn’t be a huge amount of space, but certainly sufficient for a productive postal operation, as well as handling customers that come in to conduct retail business.”

Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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