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Officials seek site for new post office

The East Amherst community is growing so fast that U.S. Postal Service officials are looking for a new building to house their "retail" postal operations, Amherst Town Board members learned Monday.

John Worth, who heads the East Amherst-Swormsville post office, said mail service officials need to keep pace with the population growth in the area.

"I don't think anybody expected the growth that's taken place in the area," Worth said. The last time anybody checked, the branch office was serving about 7,500 residents on both sides of Transit Road in Amherst and Clarence. But Worth said he is sure that number will grow to around 8,000, putting added pressure on the facility's crowded parking lot.

Worth and Richard A. Szudzik, a postal service architect, attended a Town Board work session to notify Amherst officials before they begin their search. And, in another indication of how much has changed in 30 years, postal officials want to lease a building close to the present branch that will accommodate a 2,000-square-foot retail facility and parking for about 16 cars.

So, what are "retail" operations? They are everything the post office provides to the public, from stamps and packaging materials to weighing parcels and processing passport applications, Worth said.

Mail sorting and other delivery activities will continue at the current facility, he said.

In other action, Town Board members heard a presentation on Wi-Fi, or wireless Internet service, given by Stuart C. Shapiro and Pravin Suchak, members of the town's Technology Committee.

A survey conducted by the committee showed that more than 90 percent of town residents have Wi-Fi capability in their homes, and 75 percent said they have access to Wi-Fi service at their workplace.

However, while free wireless services are being offered to the public in other parts of the country, only Buffalo and a few other municipalities in Western New York now offer the service.

Shapiro, a University at Buffalo computer science professor, said the cost to provide the free services can vary from a low of $4,500, to more than $2.6 million, shelled out by one Florida municipality that is serving 28,000 residents over a 15-square-mile area.

e-mail: tdolan@buffnews.com

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