Contractor to gut longtime broken air conditioning unit at Stuart Post Office

STUART, Fla. - The Stuart postmaster says almost every part of the antiquated air conditioning unit has been broken at one time or another, so it's time for an overhaul.

"It should have been done yesterday," complained Linda LaRoche, a heated customer. "It's been going on and off for the last two or three years, and it's like an oven in there. And, after all, this is Florida. It's not Alaska."

Some remember the dog days of summer, when a United States Postal Service spokesperson said the AC would be fixed. It's an older chilled water system. And it was fixed, but the repairs didn't last.

"If the Federal Government had been running right, these people wouldn't have problems with their AC," said Richard Baker, a PO box customer.

Customers also remember Monday, when the generator gave out and all the temporary AC units went kaput. But some say, what's the big deal?

"I've lived in Stuart since 1958, and the post office then was in the arcade building, downtown Stuart area. Nothing was air conditioned, so what are they worried about now?" asked Clark Gibson.

Debbie Fetterly, a USPS spokeswoman, says the post office has hired a contractor to install a new air handling system.

Airflow AC project manager Ralph Warren had a feeling this was going to happen. He did a two-hour estimate three years ago and quoted an almost $10,000 repair.

"A lot of water leaking, pumps not working," he listed.

Warren never did the work and is not sure if anyone else did either. But the postmaster says lots of parts have been fixed over time.

"I think it's very bad that it's a government-run facility and they can't repair the air conditioning and keep their workers comfortable," said Warren.

Fetterly says a contractor has already been on site and is going to gut the old AC system in the next week. She apologizes for any inconvenience and says she's happy a brand new system is on the way.

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