Lawrence's postmaster said Thursday that a new building to replace the cramped Jayhawk Station could open by 1993.
Postmaster Bill Reynolds speculated that Jayhawk Station, proposed to move from 1519 W. 23rd to the south side of 31st Street east of K mart Discount Store, 3106 Iowa, could be open for business by January or June 1993, depending on when construction starts.
"Our real estate people are working on the site plan right now," Reynolds said. "It looks like the timetable would be favorable to start construction in the spring and open nine months to a year after that."
The site plan will have to be approved by the Lawrence City Commission before the building can be built. The postal service announced its plans to the commission in July. Initially, the plan hit a snag because an access road proposed for a new Wal-Mart store near 33rd and Iowa streets would have reduced the site to the point that it wouldn't have been feasible for the postal service.
WHEN commissioners scrapped the proposed Cedarwood Drive plan in favor of an Ousdahl Road extension, the access road issue no longer complicated the postal service's plans.
Michael Buckles, real estate specialist with the postal service in Overland Park, said officials now are testing soil and doing survey work at the site. Buckles said about 15 sites were considered before the postal service decided on 31st Street.
The new post office building will be about 20,000 square feet. Reynolds said the existing 7,500-square-foot, 25-year-old Jayhawk Station is "way too small for the growth that Lawrence has experienced."
He said the new post office will include a drive-up lane, a larger post office box section and vending services. There also will be more parking at the new building, Reynolds said.
ANOTHER consideration, he said, is that additional space will be needed for equipment when the postal service becomes automated.
"Lawrence will have five pieces of automated mail equipment, three at the main post office and two at Jayhawk Station," Reynolds said, adding that the existing Jayhawk Station does not have the room to use such equipment.
Asked whether the number of employees at Jayhawk Station would increase when the new building is finished, Reynolds said, "We actually anticipate reducing the number of employees slightly" because of the switch to automation.
Currently, clerks must sort pieces of mail before they are distributed to the city's 55 mail carriers. Manual sorting will be obsolete with automation, which Reynolds said will "put mail in the exact sequence of delivery."
Reynolds estimated that the number of employees at Jayhawk Station might decrease by three when the switch to automation is final. On a daily basis, about 25 employees now work at Jayhawk Station, Reynolds said, adding that the postal service hopes to decrease its work force through attrition, not by layoffs.