Cabot, News

Asbestos Removed, Progress on Next Steps a Mystery

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CABOT – Information has trickled out slowly and sparsely to Cabot residents inconvenienced by the closure of the town post office, but there has been some recent activity there.

photo by Vanessa Fournier Asbestos removal from the Cabot Post Office has been completed, but the status of work to insulate and replace the ceiling and a possible reopening date are unknown. The Post Office was closed March 5 after asbestos was discovered and all of Cabot’s operations were relocated to the Marshfield Post Office.

Select Board Chair R.D. Eno said the closure in Cabot resulted from “vermiculite shifting down from the ceiling.” Vermiculite, a mineral commonly used as insulation in construction, often is contaminated with asbestos.

On May 28, Eric Levaggi, with Levaggi Environmental Contracting Inc. of Morrisville, said he had finished the job of removing the asbestos from the ceiling on May 6. Before that, in late April he had cleaned out the building, moving everything inside to storage, before he began the work of asbestos removal.

Levaggi said the next step will be to insulate and install a new ceiling. He was asked for recommendations for a contractor by the owner’s representative, who had been having a difficult time finding one.

Postal Realty Trust, a publicly traded real estate investment firm owns the Cabot building among more than 1,500 post office properties nationwide. Based in Cedarhurst, N.Y., the landlord’s representatives did not return messages seeking comment and additional information.

The U.S. Postal Service mailed an announcement to local customers on March 6 describing a “suspension” of local operations “due to safety issues.” Eno said that, as far as he knows, no one has reported any health issues as a result of working at the Cabot Post Office.

Cabot residents have since had to travel nearly five to 11 miles (one way) to Marshfield for mail services, including access to post office boxes and package pickup and drop-off, or farther to Plainfield.

“The post office closure has been especially hard on elderly, more home bound residents on a fixed income,” Cabot resident Cheryl Gilbert wrote to a Hardwick Gazette reporter in a direct message on Facebook. “They now have to find a way to Marshfield to pick up their mail instead of walking a few doors down. They paid their expensive box fee. Mail to rural boxes are free. The postal service should be delivering to village residents free instead of making them find rides, etc., to Marshfield.”

The Cabot post office closure comes amid a series of problems and customer frustrations with the federal postal service in Vermont. Staffing shortages have led to mail delivery delays or unserved routes in some areas across the state. The Vermont congressional delegation has criticized the postal service’s leadership in Washington. This month, the postal service announced it had scrapped a plan to move Vermont mail processing operations out of state to a central warehouse in Connecticut, partly in response to consumer complaints and political pressure.

In April, Eno reported that, “Once reconstruction is complete, it will be up to the USPS to decide when to occupy the building, but a USPS official in Portland, Maine, has assured the select board that the post office will be reopened.”

Cabot residents, meanwhile, are left without clear answers about when the post office might reopen.

Danae Moyer, UVM Community News Service

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