ARLINGTON — The United States Postal Service office in Arlington has been closed since end-of-day Friday due to a “strong odor of fuel throughout,” per a letter posted at the entrances of the building, signed by Jerome Reen, manager of Postal Operations.
“The issue has been reported to the building owner,” the letter reads. “The Postal Safety team has advised that we relocate the operation until this issue is abated.”
The owner of the building was not known as of press time, as Arlington Town Offices were closed due to the weather.
Arlington resident Nancy Boardman says she has heard secondhand around town that the odor has been an issue for several months, and that employees have concerns that the smell is linked to recent health issues.
“Yeah, people have told me, ‘Oh, this is nothing new, this has been going on since December,’” she said. “Apparently they were having rashes and breathing problems, and they complained about it, but without any satisfaction.”
Boardman doesn’t have her mail delivered, and said she was a regular at the post office at 3575 Vermont Route 7A, picking up her mail at least four times per week. Boardman said the closure was a surprise to her.
“I never smelled anything. I had no idea because I had not talked to the employees — they hadn’t said a word to me, anyways,” she said. “And I’ve never picked up on any problems.”
The letter, which was also mailed to Arlington residents and businesses, notified customers that receive PO box service at the Arlington office that they will now be able to pick up their mail in East Arlington, at 243 Old Mill Road.
Boardman commented on the late notice and the inconvenience that picking up the mail at the East Arlington location presents.
“(The letter) didn’t even get put into the boxes until the 10th,” she said. “It’s caused a whole lot of confusion. It’s a tiny post office in East Arlington. It’s like a phonebooth,” she added. “I was the fourth person in line (Monday), and I don’t think another person could have fit in behind me.”
Steve Doherty, strategic communications specialist for the USPS Atlantic Area – Northeast Region, echoed the contents of the letter mailed to residents and posted on the doors of the facility.
“Apparently there was a strong odor of fuel in the facility,” Doherty said via email. “The cause of the fumes was not determined but, out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to keep employees and customers out of the building until the landlord had an opportunity to abate the problem.”
A later request for comment on the rumors that complaints had been raised for several months was made shortly before press time. That email was not immediately answered.
“The suspension of the facility is not tantamount to a discontinuance action, but rather is intended to give Postal Service management the ability to evaluate potential solutions,” the letter says.
“I realize with change there is always concern,” Reen’s letter concludes. “Please note, however, that the Postal Service has not made a final decision to permanently discontinue the Arlington Post Office, and should any such decision be made in the future, the Postal Service will solicit feedback from customers on any potential discontinuance actions.”
The Postal Service informed the public in the letter that East Arlington’s hours will be Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon. Retail services are also available at the Manchester Post Office at 300 Seminary Ave.