[media-credit id=175 align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]Crammed into the post office off 73rd Terrace and Mission Road, more than 50 Prairie Village residents met with a representative from the United States Postal Service who announced that the Prairie Village branch will not be closing.

Notified through a letter sent out by the USPS, residents gathered prepared to discuss the “current location of the branch.” Many came with signs and petitions, fearing the branch would be shut down. Gary Mattox, a real estate specialist for the USPS from Denver, brought only good news for those fearing the worst.

“First thing I want to say, we are not closing the post office,” Mattox said.

The meeting was called to inform residents about the pending sale of the building the post office occupies, and assure them it most likely won’t result in any big changes. The USPS owns very few buildings, most of its post offices are leased from real estate companies, and turnover among owners is not uncommon, Mattox said.

“We operate our buildings under a government lease, that’s used for every post office,” Mattox said. “We agree on terms with the owner and rent the building, it works just like any commercial lease”

He told the crowd that the USPS was working hard to ensure that the boxes and retail operations would remain open and in the same place, however that will come down to who buys the new building and the terms they agree on.

“When a building we operate out of goes up for sale, we put a solicitation in for the new owners to let us lease back the boxes and the front end,” Maddox said. “If the new owner tells us to get out, we have to leave, but four to five times out of 10 they let us stay.”

If worse comes to worse and they have to move, the post office will still offer the same services it does now, with only a slight possibility of a disruption to those utilizing PO boxes, Mattox said.

“If we have to move, some box numbers may change,” Mattox said. “However we don’t know if and when the building will sell. It may sell tomorrow, it may not sell for a few years. We don’t want to move, if the building sells and we can still lease back the boxes and front space, we’ll do that.”