SPRING HILL — Vivian Wilkerson loves having a post office near her home.
It allows her to easily pop in a couple of times a week for stamps or to mail a birthday present to a grandchild. And when the weather is nice, she'll even walk the four blocks to get there.
So when she heard talk this summer that the U.S. Postal Service substation in Spring Hill Plaza was among 13 in the Tampa Bay area that might be shuttered, she worried.
"I don't even know where the next-closest one is," Wilkerson said. "It would have been hard on a lot of us older people that don't drive much."
Neither Wilkerson nor her neighbors need to fret about that now. Postal Service spokesman Gary Sawtelle said the substation has been removed from the list of possible closures.
Efforts to streamline staffing and the consolidation of mail processing across the country enabled the agency to shave enough from its projected losses this year to spare the Spring Hill substation on Spring Hill Drive at Kass Circle, and many of the others in danger of closing.
Like most businesses, the biggest problem facing the Postal Service has been the economy. A sharp decline in revenue, coupled with rising costs, combined to threaten a projected $7 billion loss for the agency this year.
To combat the loss, the Postal Service took drastic measures, including layoffs and increasing postage prices. Sawtelle said closing post offices was a last resort the agency feared might cause a backlash among its customers.
Sawtelle said that during the review process, his office was flooded with petitions and letters from customers of the Spring Hill substation.
"They were very vocal about it," he said. "It let us know how important (that substation) is in their community."