Aug. 12 -- To the Editor:

Since Portsmouth City Councilor Lazenby has asked the public for their thoughts on moving the post office from the McIntyre site to the Foundry Place garage, I would have to say that I think it is a bad idea.

The present central location fosters community by encouraging its users to linger downtown and patronize our many wonderful downtown businesses. Moving the post office to Foundry Place while providing free short-term parking spots for postal customers would encourage residents to hurriedly do their chores at the post office, rush back to their cars before their free parking time had expired, and go straight home. By keeping our beloved post office where it is, its users are likely to park in the center of town for a longer time and stay a while to patronize our local businesses - maybe to grab a cup of coffee at Breaking New Grounds or a pastry at Popover's, or perhaps to take a stroll and purchase clothes at one of our lovely shops. Councilor Dwyer's "interesting" idea for a Foundry Place garage post office offering free short-term parking spaces for postal customers only will have the unintended consequences of bribing postal customers to stay away from downtown and thereby refrain from enjoying its businesses. Combining this with allowing the McIntyre developers to overbuild without providing sufficient on site parking will strike another blow to potentially weaken our downtown businesses.

Dwyer's justification for the Foundry Place location is that, in her words, for people living outside of downtown, "getting to the post office" is "a pain," so that makes it acceptable to cause similar pain for downtown residents as well. Downtown renters, homeowners, and business owners already pay more for the convenience of living or doing business downtown, and now Dwyer wants to make their lives less convenient and more painful. The purpose of a city council member is not to make their constituents' lives more painful.

It is counterproductive for our city council to promote policies to discourage residents and others from patronizing our downtown businesses and to place burdens on these businesses. It also makes no sense for federal officials, who have indicated that they do not want the post office building demolished, to leave an empty, non-functioning post office building in the heart of downtown, while forcing Portsmouth residents to travel way out to the semi-industrial, somewhat isolated Foundry Place garage for their postal chores even after the McIntyre project has been completed.

From what Councilor Becksted has stated, it sounds like a few city officials are working on this matter behind closed doors, and are not even informing other council members as to what is going on. He is correct in asserting that the entire council should be consulted and that their approval should be sought to authorize such a dramatic change for our downtown. It's time to end the secrecy and the imperial attitude of those handling the McIntyre project. It's time for them stop steamrolling constituents, violating city and state law, and rolling over and playing dead for the developers and federal bureaucrats. It's time to remember that they are working for the people of Portsmouth.

Christina Lusky