LETTER: Finding a Temporary, Permanent Home for Watertown Main Street Post Office Should be a Priority

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I extend Happy New Year wishes for good health, peace and prosperity for one and all.

Almost ten years ago; 02/03/2014, to be exact; Charlie Breitrose launched Watertown News. Watertown’s: “independent, locally owned news website” became a reality. Thank you, Charlie, for your many years of unbiased news coverage and open venue for citizen thought provoking interactions. Congratulations – Happy Tenth Anniversary!!!

Only three years prior to Watertown News, two of Watertown’s Post Offices were being evaluated for closure. How many residents recall the 2011-2012 turmoil created by the proposed closing of the East Watertown (589 Mount Auburn St.) and New Town (123 Galen St.) Post Offices by the United States Postal Service (USPS)? 

For now, the two locations are still operating. “Long-term financial plans” for funding of the sites by the USPS can be subject to change. Also to note: The 123-125 Galen St. property was recently offered for sale; currently listed as: “off market”.

Charlie Breitrose, writing for the Watertown Patch and Erin Baldassari for Watertown Tab/WickedLocal.com reported on the post office branch closings as follows:



Without notice to stakeholders; the “Watertown Financial Post Office” (126 Main St.) will be closing on 01/26/2024. Clyde Younger broke the news. Who knew the post office would be closing in four weeks?

Did Watertown’s Team advocate for a permanent/temporary location? Or review the needs of the post office patrons who wait in the long lines for counter service? Is there a confirmed future for a “Watertown Financial Post Office”, to be sited in Watertown Square? Not all post offices are equal in available services for the public. (See https://tools.usps.com/find-location.htm?location=1434632)

Phrases such as: “We hope to move back” and “considering relocating and moving-back” are not reassuring. Two plus years is a long time for open-ended uncertainties.

Watertown’s Team engaged in the development process for the multiple parcels at 104-126 Main St. All knowing the ramifications for displacing an existing business service that is central to the visibility of Watertown Square.

In my opinion, Watertown’s Team must also initiate and engage in open dialogue to explore all options to maintain Watertown Square post office stability. Enhanced Postal Services are an integral part of providing a presence as a viable destination in the nucleus of Watertown. Thank you.


Angeline Maria B. Kounelis

Retired District A, East End, City Councilor
Landline: 617-926-2352
Mobile: 617-538-9252

22 thoughts on “LETTER: Finding a Temporary, Permanent Home for Watertown Main Street Post Office Should be a Priority

  1. Angie is spot on. I might add that a Post Office is critical piece of a walkable residential district in Watertown Square. It still provides many services including passport renewal.

  2. We’d all prefer to have a “central” post office in Watertown Square, our city center. But this one is closing for good reasons. Everyone who’ll miss the Main St. Post Office will also benefit (whether they admit it or not) from the new housing which will be built on that spot. Current residents are *not* the only stakeholders in this situation, the needs of other stakeholders are equally important … including future residents who want to live where the new building will be. It would be nice if the Post Office leases space in the new building after it’s constructed, but this will be the Post Office’s decision. People who expect everything to stay the same, year after year, should adjust their expectations to fit reality and recognize that other people have needs too.

    • Sorry, but I could not agree less about this collection of
      misdirected thoughts.

      At the same time, I cannot understand why one of the clearly
      unoccupied Watertown Square buildings could not have served
      as a temporary (or permanent) Post Office.

    • This isn’t about things staying the same year after year. It’s about having a convenient cluster of services that make a business district.

      I chose my neighborhood because there were bus stops, a branch of my bank, a Post Office, a hardware store, Armenian markets, and a number of good restaurants all within easy walking distance. Old and new residents alike find such convenience amenable.

      • It would be great to have a post office in easy walking distance of every resident, but that’s not possible. And yes, people may choose a place to live based on such amenities, but those amenities may change over time (don’t stay the same year after year after year). The Post Office is leaving for reasons that benefit our city. And they may come back, but it’s their choice. They decide where to locate their Post Offices. If you want to complain, your most effective feedback will be to the U.S. Postal Service.

    • Ms. Breen, all of us can speak in generalities. Can you give us any specific benefit that you allude to in closing the Post Office? I am not going to admit or submit to anything you have to say about the subject property. Can you explain to anyone how the owner of the property and the developer (your “Stakeholders”) out weight the interests of the multitude of other “Stakeholders”? There is also the expression “The Common Good”. Unknown new residents are not “Stakeholders”, unless you are a Realtor representing people that you have lined up to move into the units it is a figment of your imagination.

      Postal Representatives have shown their interest in staying; otherwise they would not have requested a two year lease extension. Whose decision was this? The Postal Service or the new developer.

      Since you unfairly tell people to adjust their expectations to fit reality; shouldn’t the shoe fit for you to adjust your expectations? In speaking about the Post Office, no one has said anything about the remainder of the project. Everyone knows it is a foregone conclusion that the project is going ahead.

      You are super imposing your view regarding the need of a community. Those of us who have been in business know that convenience is important; otherwise, you would not see small markets, pizza stores or whatever. Yes, I can drive down to the large Postal Service near South Station.

      There is also value in “Community” defined by Webster as “A group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger Society. I presume you agree it is important how we approve development so that is not detrimental to the community is of value. Does a Central Financial Post Office described by Ms. Kounelis have value?

  3. The Main Street US Post Office in Watertown Square is a basic near everyday service that is one of the cornerstone pieces that you want in a center that you desire to attract foot traffic to.
    If it does not return, it will be a significant loss to the city from several perspectives.
    The loss from a business perspective is that local businesses in the square both now and in the future will not be benefiting from the guaranteed foot traffic that the office generates all year round. Their businesses will have less exposure to many who regularly use these services.
    The loss from a community development perspective is that many of the lost foot traffic are Watertown residents from all different neighborhoods who are all an integral part in supporting the squares redevelopment and revitalization. If the square is to flourish, there should be strong desire to bring Watertown residents into the square frequently for many reasons.
    Any redevelopment plans that did not include the Main Street Post Office should have been a non-starter.

  4. Why can’t the post office just move across the street to where the Santander bank used to be ? That seems to make the most sense. Their lease ran out in the old location and there is a completely open building across the street for them to move into.

    • Eric York, Boston Realty Advisors is marketing the Santander Bank’s 5,900-6,636 sq. ft. of ground-level space for retail. It is marketing the 736-4,121 upper-level space for office use. Had the bank wanted to sell the building or lease it for another use, it is likely it would have already done so. Santander is sitting on the property, which is not just a vacant building waiting for the U.S. Postal Service to become a lessee. The city has slated the old police station for demolition, and it would have to be retrofitted to be ADA accessible if the city were inclined to give the post office a temporary home there. It is unlikely the city wants to use taxpayers’ money to make the building suitable for the post office’s needs. The property manager for the Main St. post office has been negotiating for three years for a temporary location for the facility. The New England regional postal service in Connecticut favors a temporary location. As things stand, mail and parcel post comes from the Waltham distribution center to the Main St. facility’s loading dock. At Main St. the mail is sorted for delivery to Watertown, Newton, parts of Boston, Belmont, and elsewhere. Main St. is not just a limited-service satellite facility. The Main St. post office is a full-service operation, selling stamps and money orders, processing passport applications, providing rental boxes for individuals and businesses, and, according to Main St. sources, serving an average of more than a hundred customers daily. As of Wednesday, there was no closing advisory posted in the post office. According to post office sources, the post office is under pressure to keep the Jan. 26 closing on the q.t. to dampen the outrage that news of the closing will elicit. The Next Door website is full of negative reaction to the closing news — 40 angry comments at last count. It is not just Watertown residents who are angry at the loss of a valued Main St. institution. Commenters from surrounding communities who use the post office are weighing in as well. Those who played a part in ousting the post office are likely keeping a low profile even as they are getting an earful of negative blow-back.

      • I will say again that the Post Office is one of a cluster of services that would be necessary to draw more folks to the Square. Knowing that there are a number of useful and pleasing retail services available is a factor in drawing foot traffic to the Square, which is what we all want.

  5. The question about the possible use of the vacant Santander Bank has been raised by many, but no one is coming forth with an answer of whether it was considered or not and the reasons why.

    As Dean said, having a Post Office on Main St. for two years or more will contribute to more lost business in that area. Many of the current businesses can’t afford to lose more patrons for that time period. And many of us feel that the developer at 104 Main St. has no intentions to encourage a P.O. to return.

    For those of us following the development plans for that building, the final plans didn’t mention loading docks or P.O. vehicle access possibilities. If they do accommodate it, it will be a much smaller location as the developer significantly reduced the retail space on the first floor so that it will be a postage-size space.

    How can we even develop a Watertown Sq. Plan without knowing if a P.O. will be in our downtown area? It is currently a draw to get people in the area to patronize local businesses. If it is gone for two years, people will go elsewhere as will their dollars. This is a no win situation for Watertown.

    Did the developer not want the P.O. because of inconveniences for their well-to-do renters who will occupy their luxury apartments? Or did they not want to get locked into a government contract again that may be more difficult to change going forward vs. another retailer where they could raise rents more easily during lease renewals? Was this the Post Office’s decision, the developers or other outside influencers? Did our local ‘leaders’ do anything or look out for our interests? We need those answers.

    For businesses and individuals to have to go to Galen St. to access their boxes is more than an inconvenience. There is very little parking there and for people who usually walk to Main St. to get their mail, this may add additional time and effort for them, not a pleasant experience during bad weather.

    Have the visually impaired people from Perkins been considered? They are used to going to one area and now have to go a different direction, probably further. Do they need extra stress and inconvenience in their lives?

    As of last week there’s still no sign announcing the closing on the P.O. doors. Many people are still learning of this situation by word of mouth. Is this because they don’t want to hear complaints for the next three weeks? Planning and communication are once again missing in Watertown, but sadly we are getting used to that.

    The current postal employees have to fill in applications for their jobs and seniority will influence where they could ultimately be placed. If you go into the P.O. in the remaining weeks, be sure to thank them for their friendly, helpful services over the years. It’s not always an easy job dealing with the public and we should show them our appreciation for jobs well done and wish them well for their final placements.

    For more comments on losing our Post Office, you can reference this link on Nextdoor.com. https://nextdoor.com/p/ZcgFKx6-Fp3q?utm_source=share&extras=NTYyNzQ5Ng%3D%3D&utm_campaign=1704203087468. You may want to contact our Watertown officials to express your opinions and concerns. This not a great way to start off in Watertown for 2024.

  6. Watertown Square needs a Post Office. Period!
    The small Newtown branch opened when Newton Corner’s Post Office lost its building to developers.

  7. Congratulations to Watertown, you are becoming more and more like Dorchester. Ppl emphasizing too much on the creating more housing and not enough on making living more convenient and comfortable in Watertown. Over crowded area, narrow sidewalk (such as this 104 Main Street project), terrible traffic, less trees or public green space. Watertown had a very good potential, but it’s not going the right direction. For sure some would disagree. But certainly those thinking or have moved out of Watertown would have agree also. Things like this would add up and slowly drive ppl away. I really don’t get the incentives of those ppl who supported this 104 Main street regardless all the issues brought to the attention. Interesting that their interests seems 100% line up with the developers.

  8. Watertown used to be a good place to live but not anymore. Just look around at Arsenal St., Main St., etc. and now the Post Office. I certainly do not want to have to go up Galen St., it should be in a central area (in Watertown Square) for the residents and businesses to go to. This is not the town that I grew up in, I agree with the previous person. No. 1 factor is that the City does not care about its citizens; otherwise, they would have kept Watertown as a nice place to live.

  9. Just an opinion: I’ve lived within walking distance of the Post Office for the past 20 years and can count the times on one hand I’ve ever needed to go inside it. In community after community over the past 20-30 years in Massachusetts, the old WPA-built, downtown P.O.s have been phased out and replaced by facilities on the edges of towns. The PO as a community meeting place is as anachronistic as ye olde country store. Look at any nearby downtown(s) in any of these communities/neighborhoods — Lexington, Belmont, Waltham, Arlington, Nonantum — and compare them to Watertown’s. We have the most unattractive, dated, lifeless Main Street around. Bar ‘Cino and NYA Joe’s are doing a good job anchoring their block, and 104 will bring some needed improvements to the opposite side of the street. We can only hope that some smart developer will come up with a plan to raze that brown monstrosity at 85 Main St. in the near future and put up a combination of housing/restaurant/retail.

  10. It’s absurd to think that our town center wouldn’t have a post office. My usual rounds in the Square include a trip to the library, a visit to the library’s coffee shop, and a walk across the street to buy stamps or mail a package. Just today, I overheard a conversation in the Square, between a woman and a bank clerk, both very upset as they wondered how and why the town has allowed this to happen. And will the USPS place another postal clerk in the East End post office? He already has more traffic than he can handle on his own. How would he process passport photos and applications? Maybe I missed it, but was the lack of a P.O. discussed during the recent meetings about the future of the Square? If not, why not?

  11. Most mail carriers are nice and will pick up a letter or two when they are dropping off mail.
    I’m not sure but Maybe they also pick up boxes too. I have tried to use the online mail postage system but it Never works for First class mail. It’s so annoying.

  12. Does anyone who owns a large amount of non-residential property near the square, want to offer up a space at cost? You won’t make any money off this deal because the federal government is very good at negotiating down prices. Or at the very least talk to them and see what their side of the story is? Are they trying to consolidate routes based on usage data? Are they having to align with business objectives to severely reduce costs per the PostMaster Genenral? I wrote to them asking them to stay in their location. I don’t know what good it since the dialog with the current developer took a very long time to occur. We don’t have the full story here. Let’s try to harness opportunities rather than bemoan something that never was.

  13. The USPS makes the decisions about siting of postal facilities. It is not the City’s decision to make. Frankly, USPS is an extremely dysfunctional organization these days. It is competing with private delivery services and not very well. It’s fine to advocate for a new location but honestly I wouldn’t hold my breath. Watertown is fortunate to have two other smaller locations in town and two in adjacent communities. That’s not true for everyone.

  14. There is a rumor going around the post office will not be returning to the Square once the construction is finished. Has anyone else heard the same thing? If this is true the citizens should be informed. Thank you.

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