Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates began a recent City Council meeting with a special announcement about the tentative plan by the U.S. Postal Service to abandon and sell the grand neo-classical Post Office building in downtown Berkeley.
"We're asking that citizens who are interested in this issue come forward and testify," Bates said.
A special council subcommittee on the Post Office will meet at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 to help formulate a city response to the Postal Service, which is trying to cut costs in the face of shrinking business.
The Postal Service says a number of its grand buildings that have been sold are now being put to productive use as museums, offices, court houses and combined commercial structures.
The Berkeley Historical Society is among the local groups opposed to the sale, saying the iconic building, which turns 100 next year, is the second oldest of the city's core distinguished public buildings, after the old City Hall.
Berkeley Congresswoman Barbara Lee also has written in opposition to the sale and cutbacks in postal services.
The Postal Service has indicated that it tentatively plans to hold a public meeting or hearing in Berkeley on Feb. 26, Bates said, and the council subcommittee wants to be able to formulate recommendations for the City Council in a timely manner.
"The submcommittee hopes to hear from the citizens and come forward with some specific recommendations for the City Council to go on record ... as to what we think the future direction of that building should be," Bates said.
The subcommittee meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers.
Those who can't attend the meeting are asked to send their comments by mail or email, Bates said. Those with questions can contact Deputy City Manager William Rogers at 510-981-7000.
The meeting agenda is attached to this article. Also attached is a document containing communications from the Postal Service (in PowerPoint format), Congresswoman Lee, the Historical Society and others.
The subcommittee consists of Bates and Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin, Laurie Capitelli and Susan Wengraf.