ARIPEKA — Mail service will return to this old fishing hamlet after the U.S. Postal Service agreed to a new lease at the historic post office building.
The post office closed in September amid a dispute with the building's former owner, Louise Geiger, a lifelong resident of Aripeka, who said the terms of the new lease with the postal service were too onerous. Enter her cousin, Carl Norfleet, 71, also a lifelong resident and former owner of the local general store. He bought the building last month.
Norfleet said Friday that he just wants to see his neighbors, a mostly elderly population, spared from having to travel for their mail.
"It feels like we're being made whole again," Norfleet said of the signing of the new lease.
There is no home mail delivery to the Pasco side of Aripeka, which straddles the county line with Hernando, so for decades residents have relied on picking up their mail from free post office boxes at the local branch. The closure meant residents had to make a 15-mile round trip to the branch in Hudson to check their boxes.
Norfleet said he's not sure exactly when the post office will reopen but a USPS spokesperson offered this email to the Times:
"We are pleased that a lease has been signed with the new owner, Mr. Norfleet. We are moving through the process as quickly as possible and expect to have the post office open in mid-November," wrote Enola Rice.
Norfleet has put money into painting and rehabilitating the post office building ahead of its reopening. The new lease includes a $30-a-month bump, so he says he will eventually break even on costs.