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When the Post Office Moves

When a town's post office moves to a strip mall on the outskirts, a community identity crisis can erupt. The National Trust for Historic Preservation reportedly gets a couple of calls a week from towns around the US facing this situation.

A post office, after all, is sometimes about all the identity a town has. Tiny places in Vermont, say, or Idaho, may not have much "center" other than the PO and a store or two.

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Bigger villages, 1,000 people and up, may still look to the few historic structures they coalesced around for orientation - points where people exchange greetings and find out what others are doing.

But if a place is growing from small to modest size, and businesses are gravitating outward, it's not hard to understand why the US Postal Service, pinched for space, might want to follow. Parking considerations alone could dictate the move.

Still, the service would be well advised in such circumstances to move with care - as steward of a valued piece of community life, not just the country's biggest corporate enterprise.

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