Kenmore library leaders waiting on post office

For now, it’s apparently a waiting game.

For now, it’s apparently a waiting game.

On Jan. 27, officials of the King County Library System and the U.S. Post Office met in Kenmore, with library leaders hoping the post office might be willing to relocate its local branch.

The Kenmore Post Office operates out of leased space at 6531 N.E. 181st St., the spot chosen by library officials for a new Kenmore branch location. The post office has a lease on its space until 2011 and if it decides to stay put, library system plans could be placed on hold.

Still, Kay Johnson, director of facilities for the library system, described the recent visit from postal officials as a “positive development.”

Library Director Bill Ptacek said postal officials consider the meeting confidential, so neither he nor Johnson were willing to go into many details. Johnson did say local library leaders met with about four or five postal officials. The group toured at least two potential alternative locations for the Kenmore Post Office.

Both Ptacek and Johnson declined to name those locations.

Johnson said she had no definite timeline on when postal leaders might reach a decision, but she expected to hear something “in the next few weeks.”

In the past, Ptacek said the library system is “ready to roll” on its project as soon as it receives positive word from the postal service. With design work about 25 percent complete, he has added that the system probably has sunk too much money into the 181st Street location to begin looking elsewhere. Local officials have gone so far as to volunteer to cover the post office’s moving costs.

In early December, postal officials were slated to be in Kenmore to scout out a new location for a local post office. Just shortly before that scheduled visit, Ptacek said he received word the trip had been canceled due to budget concerns.

The library system plans a 10,000-square-foot building, with construction costs set at $5.3 million. Including books and other materials, the final price tag has been estimated at $10.5 million. Funding comes from a 2004 voter-approved bond issue. According to Ptacek, those same dollars could help relocate the Kenmore Post Office.