HALIFAX — After fears that the West Halifax Post Office would close this month if a deal wasn’t struck, it is staying put.
“It looks like we have a five-year agreement in place,” Select Board Vice Chairman Peter Silverberg said at the board meeting last week, where the news was cheered. “That’s thanks to the landlord being a tenacious guy.”
Around the fall of 2020, Silverberg previously told the Reformer, the U.S. Postal Service put terms and conditions into a new contract that the landlord could not live with. He said the landlord would need to “take responsibility for terrorist acts and stuff like that,” which would be untenable for a small business owner.
The negotiations fell apart and the town was notified the post office on Reed Hill Road would be closed as of April 30, 2021. An 18-month extension of the contract starting May 1, 2021, allowed it to stay open until this month, then a deal was reached for the five-year term.
Silverberg called the office of U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., “very helpful.” A staff member “sort of got in between the post office and the landlord and facilitated quite a bit,” Silverberg said.
“It probably wouldn’t have happened without her help,” he said, referring to Kelly Goulette.
Emily Becker, communications director for Welch’s office, said the Select Board reached out for help and her group contacted United States Postal Service Headquarters “a number of times to encourage a speedy resolution to negotiations between USPS and the building owner.”
“We maintained contact with all involved parties to ensure continued postal service for folks in West Halifax,” Becker said. “Rep. Welch is committed to maintaining post office access for rural Vermonters, and our office was happy to work with the town of West Halifax and USPS Headquarters to keep the local post office open.”
Earlier this month, voters in Vermont elected Welch to serve as a U.S. senator. Becca Balint, president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate who resides in Brattleboro, will succeed Welch in the U.S. House.
Silverberg said he’s been working on the issue for “pretty close” to two years now.
“It should be on the town’s radar about what to do longer term if we want it here,” he advised the board.
When thanked for his work on the issue, he said his job was to be a pest.
In September, Silverberg told the Reformer the community had been “struggling with this post office deal for a long time here in Halifax.” He described having great difficulty in reaching the Postal Service to discuss the impending closure.
“I think they’re just going to kill the post office, they’re going to take it away from us,” Silverberg previously said. “It’s unacceptable.”
Halifax Post Office’s fate is in limbo
At the time, Postmaster Tyson Dix called the lack of communication on the issue “very frustrating.”
“We’re a small community,” he previously said. “I want to let the town know what’s going on but I can’t provide them with any information.”
The topic has been a regular item on Select Board meeting agendas.
“We talk about it at every meeting,” Silverberg previously said. “There’s some concern. I think the concern will happen when people are told they don’t have a post office anymore. That’s when there’s going to be concern and it’s going to be late in the game.”
Steve Doherty, strategic communications specialist for the USPS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In September, he confirmed the USPS was “negotiating with the current landlord on a possible lease as well as looking at other options that may be available.”