For the past twenty years, the City of Shelton has partnered with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to preserve community access to Post Office Park, a small quarter-acre outdoor space located just east of the Shelton Post Office in the heart of historic downtown on Railroad Avenue. During that time, Post Office Park has become a vital community asset that serves as a prominent venue for a variety of important community events, most notably the annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony dating back to 1959.
The City has historically leased the property from the USPS in exchange for twenty parking stalls designated for USPS employees on adjacent City streets, and all maintenance and upkeep of the park grounds. At the conclusion of 2018, the City’s twenty-year lease agreement expired. The USPS has indicated that they may not renew the City’s lease, and will move to explore the possibility of removing the park, including the community Holiday Tree, to make way for a paved parking lot reserved for USPS employee parking.
City officials have been working to renew a long-term lease on the property for almost a year, and have offered several additional incentives for the USPS to consider, including the installation of a new wrought iron fence for the building’s stairwells, additional exterior lighting, and additional reserved parking spaces on City property for USPS employees. The City began the process to renew the lease several months before it expired, and continues to reach out to USPS officials in Washington, D.C. on a regular basis.
“We understand the desire to improve the postal facilities for USPS employees,” said City Manager Jeff Niten. “However, the City feels that renewing the lease agreement for an additional twenty plus years is critical to preserving this iconic community landmark. We are also grateful to Congressmen Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer, and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for their efforts in helping the City work through this important issue.”
The City intends to continue utilizing this space for many years into the future for a number of events and activities, including the Holiday Tree Lighting, a summer music in the park series, a multi-event start/finish location, and the weekly Shelton Farmers Market. Post Office Park is also home to several local Eagle Scout projects and the Cameron Owen Memorial Tree, brother of former Washington State Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen. Losing access to this cherished space would be detrimental to several community traditions, the preservation of an important piece of Shelton’s history, and a deeply rooted source of community pride.