Four Tampa Bay area post offices are among thousands across the country that might close, the Postal Service announced Tuesday.
The move comes as the financially troubled agency said it will study 3,653 offices, branches and stations for possible closure.
The Tampa Bay locations under review are at 45 Causeway Blvd. in Clearwater Beach, 2810 E Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa, 207 E Fort Dade Ave. in Brooksville and 1750 16th St. S in St. Petersburg.
The St. Petersburg post office is a politically sensitive one. It opened in 2005 as part of an effort to revitalize Midtown, a 51/2-square-mile area largely south of Central Avenue under then-Mayor Rick Baker.
"It's my intent to vigorously defend the Midtown post office," said Mayor Bill Foster. "I was on City Council when we fought like the dickens to get that opened. It's one of those basic government services that can define a neighborhood."
Goliath Davis was deputy mayor in charge of Midtown development. He said he and Baker spent months meeting with federal officials to get it opened. "It's a symbol not only of economic development, but progress. If it closes, that's a step back for that whole area."
Tuesday morning, the Midtown branch saw a steady stream of customers.
"It's more of an intimate atmosphere," said Yvonne Matte, who visits the post office daily. "You're more comfortable asking for help and information."
Many of the stations might be replaced by so-called village post offices, where postal services are offered in stores, libraries or government offices.
The Postal Service operates 31,871 outlets across the country, down from 38,000 a decade ago. A sharp decline in business is blamed on the rising popularity of e-mail and the recession's affect on advertising mail revenue. The Postal Service lost $8 billion last year.
Most under review are low-volume branches. Getting reviewed doesn't mean an office will close. The Postal Service announced in January it was reviewing 1,400 offices for closing. So far 280 have closed and 200 will remain open.
Several Tampa Bay area post offices have survived the chopping block before, including the one in Clearwater Beach that is targeted again. The historic post office in Pass-a-Grille closed in June despite residents' protests .
Once an office is selected for review, customers have 60 days to file comments. If an office is to be closed, customers can appeal to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.