CLEARWATER BEACH — It takes two minutes for Brad Yourth to bike from his home to the post office in the Clearwater Municipal Marina. Five minutes, if he walks.
Yourth worries it might take much longer for him to get his mail if the Clearwater Beach post office, which is being studied for possible closure, is shut down.
The station is one of nearly 1,000 around the country being examined by the U.S. Postal Service as it attempts to cut costs. The station faced the same danger in 2009 but was removed from the list of locations closed.
"It's a great disservice to us on the beach," Yourth said. "The Clearwater Memorial Causeway is packed for much of the year, and it would take me an hour to go to downtown Clearwater and back just to pick up a letter."
The Postal Service began studying 1,400 locations nationwide in January. Since then, it has closed 280 and removed 200 from the list.
Being on the list, however, does not mean a station will close, Postal Service spokeswoman Nancy Ross said.
"The Clearwater Beach location is not targeted for any specific reason," she said. "But we have to start somewhere with the offices across the country."
The list examines locations with several nearby post offices. Clearwater also has post offices downtown, on Belcher Road and on U.S. 19.
"If we have six to seven offices in close proximity, it's a lot less expensive for us to drop off mail at two or three of those," Ross said.
The Postal Service is trying to streamline its offerings by providing services online and in "village post offices," where local businesses can sign up to become postal providers, Ross said. Village post offices can offer packaging, stamps and boxes.
"It doesn't make sense to have all these buildings," Ross said. "We're trying to make the transition to the 21st century in a technological way that will be most convenient for our customers."
After the Postal Service has studied the stations on the list — considering rent, utilities, number of employees and proximity to other locations — it will host public comment meetings so customers can ask questions and voice opinions, Ross said.
Ross could not estimate when Clearwater Beach would host a public comment meeting, but she said customers will be given 15 days' notice.
As the Clearwater Beach station received a line of customers Monday, 43-year-old Anthony Tocco of Clearwater visited the station. Tocco comes to the post office nearly every day to check his box.
Tocco loves the beach location because he's met people from all over the world there, he said.
"England!" piped up a woman standing behind him in line — a tourist buying stamps for a postcard.
"It's a wonderful experience each time you visit," Tocco said.
For Tocco, the Clearwater Beach station serves another purpose that the downtown station can't fulfill.
"It's an excuse to come to the beach," he said.
Katie Park can be reached at (727) 445-4154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.