A U.S. Post office representative this week said a new post office planned for Annandale may be jeopardized because the location approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is too expensive.
"I don't know whether we can justify the cost now," said George Dennison, Post Office District Administrator coordinator. "It (the location) may or may not put the whole project in jeopardy; it very well could."
Dennison was referring to the board's decision that the new Annandale post office should be built at the intersection of Annandale Center and John Marr drives. The decision overturned an earlier recommendation by the county planning commission to locate the new post office near the intersection of Heritage Drive and Rte. 236.
Three sites were submitted by the post office and the National Capital Planning Commission, which oversees the design, planning and construction of federal buildings in the area, to the county government for "input", said Dennison. He said the postal service preferred the Heritage Drive location over the Annandale Center site because of costs. The third site submitted, near the intersection of John Marr Drive and Backlick Road, has been rejected for being too small.
Building on the Annandale Center Drive site would cost approximately $136,000 more than building on Heritage Drive because of topographical problems, Dennison said. Building the post office at the Annandale Center Drive site is estimated to cost $827,025.
Annandale residents have long wanted a new post office with a larger parking lot and safer access than that afforded by the present facility at 7409 Little River Turnpike, it was said.
"I'm a little disappointed at the site chosen, but it's safer than what we have now," said board member Audrey Moore (D-Annandale) who voted against the Annandale Center Drive site. "Any site would be better than the one we have."
Some Annandale residents who testified before the board said that putting the new post office at Heritage Drive, another location on Rte. 236 (Little River Turnpike), "would just move the same access problems further up the road."
Other, however, said they believed that building an access road to the proposed post office location on Rte. 236 would make it a better post office location than the Annandale Center Drive site.
The Annandale Chamber of Commerce was among those supporting the Annandale Center Drive site, claiming that it would benefit Annandale's central business district.
Board member Alan H. Magazine (D-Mason) also supported this site, saying that ultimately the location would be less expensive to develop. He said it probably would be difficult and more expensive to acquire the Rte. 236 site because not all the owners of the 4.3-acre parcel wanted to sell. In addition, a house on the property would have to be torn down, Magazine said, and a service road built to permit use of the site.
"That would bring $136,000 estimated dfference in price between the two sites down to a negligible sum," he said.
But Dennison said he worries that the Annandale Center Drive site now will escalate in price because "the owner of the site now knows his is the preferred one, and it will make it harder to negotiate a price."
The board's recommendations now go back to the National Capital Planning Commission, who will then submit it's own recommendation to the Post Office, which will make the final decision on a site but usually concurs with local preferences, Dennison said.
Dennison said later that the post office would try to cooperate with the county and come up with the additional money needed to develop the Annandale Center Drive site.
"But the choice has already been made for us . . . We wish it had not been so restrictive."