The U.S. Postal Service has completed the purchase of a 4-acre site on West 31st Street where it plans to build a new 21,521-square-foot substation.
The postal facility, which would replace Jayhawk Station, 1519 W. 23rd, probably will be open in about 18 months, said Lawrence Postmaster Bill Reynolds.
The postal service purchased the 174,404-square-foot site, directly east of Kmart, for $600,000 from Cory and Cynthia Brinkerhoff and Robert C. Sturgeon.
Cory Brinkerhoff said today that the price was set on a per-foot basis, which would be about $3.44 per square foot, rather than at $150,000 an acre.
"Typically, commercial land is sold by the foot," Brinkerhoff said. "The value is based on a professional appraisal done by an independent certified appraiser."
BECAUSE THE postal service uses standard building plans for its new facilities, Reynolds said, the estimated construction time of the new station is shorter than it might be for other projects.
The postal service initiated the project to provide additional space for its operations on the south and west sides of Lawrence, where most of the city's growth is concentrated. Reynolds said the postal service has outgrown the current Jayhawk Station, which has 7,500 square feet, limited parking and poor traffic access.
However, Reynolds noted that the design for the new postal facility will be chosen with an eye toward the postal service's push toward full automation.
"The size of that facility is based in part on automated equipment that is scheduled to be placed in Lawrence in late 1994 or early 1995," he said.
ULTIMATELY, the postal service will sort all first-class mail electronically from bar codes on the outsides of envelopes. The equipment heading to Lawrence in a few years includes five bar code sorters, three of which will be located at the main post office, 745 Vt., and two of which will be installed in the new Jayhawk Station.
Reynolds said that using the bar codes, which will be printed on all mail by 1995, the postal service's new equipment also will sort mail into delivery sequences, eliminating the need for clerks to sort mail by hand.
The move toward full automation is behind the Lawrence post office's recent reconfiguration of postal routes. Earlier this month, the postal service reassigned letter carrier routes to conform to the delivery patterns that will be dictated by the new equipment. The new delivery patterns are different than those the postal service had been using.
REYNOLDS SAID that some customers may have noticed changes and delays in mail delivery in recent weeks as local postal employees are learning the "new sortation schemes" and letter carriers are getting used to their new routes.
"It's going pretty much as expected," Reynolds said this morning.
"On probably about 25 percent of the first-class mail we've experienced a one-day delay," he said. "On the advertising material, we've had a two- to three-day delay on some of it."
He noted, however, that as of Monday the local post office was caught up on delivery of first-class mail and was within a few days of being current on delivery of bulk mail.
With automation, the U.S. Postal Service hopes to reduce its workforce by 80,000 by 1995. About 40 of the 150 local postal jobs will be eliminated, but Reynolds said he hopes to make the reduction through attrition rather than layoffs.
"We are not filling vacancies at this time," he said noting that the local postal operation currently has cut its staff by about half a dozen through retirements and other attrition.