New Federal Legislation Would Reform U.S. Postal Service’s Sale of Historic Post Office Buildings, Allowing Community Input

Legislation introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives would require the U.S. Postal Service to substantially improve its procedures for transferring ownership of historic post office buildings. Sponsored by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), the legislation makes it clear that the National Historic Preservation Act applies to the Postal Services’ sales of historic post office buildings, a fact that the Postal Service has long disputed. If this legislation is enacted, the Postal Service would have a Congressional mandate to undertake a thorough and transparent review process—one that includes considerable input from the public and key stakeholders—before entering into any agreement to sell a historic post office building.

The legislation (H.R. 5377) also requires the Postal Service to place a moratorium on the sale of any historic post office buildings until it complies with the reforms called for in the legislation.

The following is a statement by David J. Brown, executive vice president and chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

“We commend Congressman Serrano (D-NY) for introducing this legislation that would put into place sensible policies and allow people a greater say in the fate of their local post office buildings, which have long occupied a special place at the center of communities across the country. We fully understand the Postal Service’s financial realities and its need to dispose of its historic properties. But without a clear and consistent public process—one that meets federal requirements for selling historic properties—hundreds of beloved local post offices across the country remain threatened. We stand committed to working with the Postal Service to implement these needed reforms and find solutions that preserve these iconic local landmarks.”

The legislation incorporates several key findings from a report requested by Congress and issued in April by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), which found that the Postal Service’s current actions to relocate and dispose of historic postal facilities are needlessly placing these important and prominent community buildings at risk.

A full copy of the ACHP report is available here

Background:
In 2012, the Trust focused national attention on the USPS’ flawed process for selling historic post offices by naming them to the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The Trust has also included America’s Historic Post Office Buildings in its portfolio of National Treasures, a core program of the Trust.

 

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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