Hicrest Post Office customers are outraged at the owners of Owls Nest, who put a stop to the use of the store’s parking lot by post office customers.
But Owls Nest owners Lyndsey and T.K. Adams are stunned at the apparent retaliation they’ve seen from a federal post office official, who appears to have deliberately parked a federal vehicle in front of their trash dumpster so it can’t be emptied. They’re frustrated by the anger post office customers are expressing toward their business.
“We’re mad at them,” said Diane Chapman, a 50-year customer at the 2921 S.E. Adams St. post office. She was at Hicrest last week to mail a large box and when she couldn’t find a marked parking space, she put her blinkers on and made her own parking space behind the drop-off mail boxes in the front lot.
Chapman said she was at first excited when Owls Nest Antique Mall &Flea Market opened its second location next door to the post office. She was pleased to see them clean up the location, which was formerly Boyles Joyland Flea Market.
But then Owls Nest blocked off access to the store parking lot at 2901 S.E. Adams, where post office customers parked when the six to seven spaces at the post office filled up.
Post office customer Mary Jo Mastroianni was even more upset.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said of the parking situation, which sometimes leaves cars stopped on Adams Street, waiting to make the turn into the post office parking lot. “People will take, even if they don’t have handicapped parking, they’ll take the handicapped parking spot. People will be waiting in line to get a parking spot. I said it’s ridiculous that Owls Nest barricaded off that parking lot. It’s huge, why would they do it?”
They did it, the couple said, because of concerns about liability issues if a customer is hurt while parked on their property and also because of expensive upkeep of the parking lot. They recently had half of the lot, which was pitted with holes and in rough condition, resurfaced to the tune of a $14,000, Lyndsey Adams said. They couldn’t afford to fix the other half.
In addition, many people raced through the Owls Nest parking lot, endangering their customers, to get around stopping at the light on the corner of 29th St. and Adams St., T.K. Adams said. In fact, people were so determined to go into the Owls Nest lot that they have at times moved the concrete barriers the couple put in place.
The couple said they’re well aware post office customers blame them.
“We approached him (the postmaster) and offered to the lease the spaces they were using to them,” Lyndsey Adams said. “It’s so much wear and tear on our parking lot, and we’re just a small business. We would still love to lease the spaces to them. I know people are angry with us about it. We really tried to do the right thing.”
The postmaster at the facility wouldn’t even talk about that idea, she said.
Brian Sperry, U.S. Postal Service spokesman for the Kansas region, said leasing decisions are made only by the Area Facilities Office.
Just as concerning to the Adams’ as the customer ill-will being generated was apparent retaliation tactics by someone at the post office.
The Adams’ trash dumpster, which sits to the side of their business in a gated area on their property, has been blocked for about a month by someone at the post office, using an official post office vehicle. Although the dumpster itself is on Owls Nest property, the access to it is from the post office’s back parking lot.
About three weeks after they blocked their parking lot, Lyndsey Adams said, someone began parking a car in front of the gate, on the post office side of the lot, so that the trash company couldn’t access the dumpster.
They are in the process of moving the dumpster to a different area.
Pete Ritchey, with Inland Waste Solutions LLC, confirmed the dumpster has been blocked and his company has been unable to empty the trash.
“It’s sad. Really, really sad. We are very peaceful. We run a Christian business. We don’t like feuds or pettiness or ugliness,” Lyndsey Adams said.
Sperry did not comment on the car blocking the dumpster, but said the postal service is aware of the parking challenges.
“We are aware of the situation and will conduct a site analysis to determine options for providing better customer access to the location, and appreciate our customers’ patience as we do so,” he said. “We advise our customers that post offices are often less busy away from lunchtime, and at the beginning and ending of the day.”
He also offered other mailing alternatives, listing Topeka post offices, including options available inside area stores like Hy-Vee, and suggested customers go to usps.com to find another location nearby or use USPS online services.
Both Chapman and Mastroianni said they’re concerned about the Christmas season, when people are mailing a lot of items.
“I’m thinking at Christmastime and all the retired people who come here,” Chapman said. “I was so mad. It’s a busy post office.”
Both women also acknowledged they hadn’t thought about the liability that Owls Nest might incur should something happen on their property.
They said the post office officials they’ve complained to have not mentioned the opportunity to lease the space and just indicated the situation was caused by Owls Nest.
“When I went there and talked to one of the top guys, he (said he) didn’t know why they did that and he seemed just as mad,” Mastroianni said.