CAMDEN — Operations at the Camden Post Office are being temporarily moved to Rockland during the completion of an ongoing renovation project, according to U.S. Postal Service spokesman Steve Doherty.

“Trying to complete the renovations while working around postal operations would not only cause the project to run well into 2023, but also creates unnecessary risks for employees in the facility,” he said in a statement Thursday, Sept. 8. “It was determined that a better approach would be to temporarily vacate the facility and allow uninterrupted access to the renovation crew, with the hopes that we can be back in the facility before year’s end.”

A sign on the front door said the office will close Friday, Sept. 16.

He said no set timetable for completion has been established.

“The Postal Service has been aggressively hiring, with currently 61 positions posted a usps.com/careers for the state of Maine,” he said. “…We are typically able to move personnel from neighboring communities to fill short-term vacancies.”

Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, issued a letter Sept. 8 expressing her concerns about a situation developing at the Camden Post Office, including word that it will be closed after Saturday, Sept. 10 and has suffered from poor conditions and staffing shortages.

Doudera sent her letter to Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, and Congresspeople Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden.

“I write on behalf of the residents and businesses of my district regarding the distressing state of our Camden Post Office.

“For months now it has been chronically understaffed and as of Saturday, September 10, the post office will be closed for an indefinite amount of time. Although employees say they are not allowed to talk about their work situations or what is planned in terms of reopening, we have heard that the closure is for completion of an ongoing construction project to upgrade the building and that our mail will be routed out of Rockland.

“This explanation makes sense, although one would think that from a customer service perspective it would be communicated to post office patrons. To my knowledge the only notice is a sign on the door saying that the window hours have changed.

“Needless to say, the temporary closure of our building will be inconvenient for residents and businesses — especially for those without transportation who now walk to mail their letters and packages. It is only fair that we know as soon as possible the reason for the closure and the plan for when the building will reopen.

“Perhaps more troubling are the working conditions for Camden Post Office employees, many of whom are our friends and neighbors. We know that our office has had trouble retaining employees due to conditions such as a mandatory six days per week work schedule and little or no overtime. Our postmaster is leaving her post this week and a longtime mail carrier will take early retirement at the end of the month.

“As in many Maine towns, our historic Chestnut Street Post Office is a vital anchor of our downtown. Back in 1990 we fought successfully against postal officials in Washington who insisted our building was too small and needed to be replaced with a new, out-of-town facility.

“We disagreed, recognizing something that the folks in D.C. did not: our post office was not only beautiful, historic, and adequately sized, but it was, and continues to be, a community hub. I served on the small committee that mobilized to save our post office, and thankfully we won.

“Now we are engaged in that fight once more. Obviously the U.S. Postal Service is not immune to the staffing shortages that are currently plaguing other businesses, but the dire situation at our post office has been going on for years. Here in Camden we are watching a critical infrastructure, one that has been integral to America since our colonial days, straining at the seams.

“Please assure us that you and the United States Postal Service are aware of these issues and let us know what is in the works to help towns like ours.”

In his email, Doherty said, “If and when a vacancy occurs in the Camden Postmaster position, that job would be posted and the process of selecting the best qualified candidate would begin. That position is not currently vacant.”

Camden resident Beedy Parker raised concerns about the Post Office at the Select Board meeting Sept. 6. She said there was an effort in the past to sell the Post Office building and that did not happen because someone in town at the time was friends with the late First Lady Barbara Bush.