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Dennis Dvorak has written six editorials in the New Prague Times about the city's need for an improved post office over the last 15 years, citing the current building's cramped conditions, inconvenient drop-off mailbox location and lack of parking, especially for people with disabilities.

"I've just taken this as my issue," he said, adding that the building has also closed several times in that period to deal with asbestos. "We deserve better."

This week, there was good news for Dvorak and others — including U.S. Rep. Angie Craig — who have been pushing for a new post office in the small city south of the Twin Cities. The U.S. Postal Service said it will either build a new post office on another New Prague site or look for an existing building that's more suitable.

Officials are seeking a building within 2 miles that has 5,200 square feet and parking for at least 24 people. They're taking comments on the proposed move for 45 days, ending April 14, 2024.

"I can't tell you what a huge development this is for the city of New Prague," said Craig, who has worked to bring attention to the building's deficiencies since 2019.

Craig said she held a listening session in 2022 in New Prague where officials and residents told her about the post office's problems, adding that "this location has been just saddled and riddled with issues."

The post office has no parking lot for the public or for people with disabilities. There's street parking, but the spots designated "handicapped" are down the street. The drop-off mailbox is in an actual parking spot — and drivers have to reach across the passenger side of their vehicle to put mail in the mailbox.

The project's estimated completion date is spring 2026, Craig said, and local residents will receive a post card about USPS plans.

Craig has also advocated for the USPS to improve mail service amid "persistent mail delays" across the south metro. In January, the inspection arm of the USPS said it will investigate delivery delays and other problems across the entire Minnesota and North Dakota postal district.

"I'm just overly excited," said New Prague Mayor Duane Jirik. "It's been a two-and-a-half-year process."

The post office has been in its current location for more than 100 years, Jirik said. It's leased from an out-of-state company called American Postal Infrastructure.

Jirik said a new facility will probably have to be built because finding a suitable building in town will be unlikely: "I don't think we have something big enough for them," he said.

Scott County Commissioner Barb Weckman Brekke said the post office announcement is a testament to the collaboration and perseverance of Craig, Jirik and residents.