A dispute over a lease agreement appears to be at the heart of the property conditions at the former Norfolk Post Office.

An article in Monday’s Daily News regarding a bill for property maintenance at 401 N. Fourth Street triggered a response from a representative of First Nationwide Postal Holdings, which owns the property. In it, the representative claimed the U.S. Postal Service is still responsible for the site’s maintenance.

“Although the Postal Service has vacated the building, their lease is still in effect thru (sic) April 2019 and they remain responsible for maintaining the property, including addressing the landscaping complaints referenced in this article,” wrote Isaac Richter, a senior property manager with Nationwide Postal Management, in an email to the Daily News.

Richter said not only has the postal service not paid any rent since March 2015, it — and not the owner of the property — also has been derelict in its responsibilities to the Norfolk community by not keeping up the appearance of the location.

A representative of the U.S. Postal Service said the matter is currently the subject of pending litigation, and it would not be appropriate to comment on the substance of a pending case.

“The postal service disputes the contentions made by the landlord and trusts that this matter will be resolved favorably,” said John G. Friess, a communications manager with the U.S. Postal Service.

John Kouba — the Norfolk health inspector with whom Richter said he’s been in “periodic communication” regarding the property’s condition — said it has been indicated in the past that a lease was in place between the two entities, but he has never seen the agreement.

Regardless, Kouba said, responsibility for the conditions of the property ultimately fall to the property owner, which is First Nationwide Postal Holdings.

“It would be difficult for us to know the details of the lease and the maintenance requirements. We have to go to the property owner,” Kouba said.

Kouba added that he didn’t know which party had been keeping up the aesthetics of the property prior to this spring when complaints began coming in, but he hoped the issue between the two entities could be resolved soon.

“We certainly hope they can work those things out so the city doesn’t have to be involved and people don’t have to worry about the lack of maintenance being done there,” he said.

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