Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Post offices are part of their neighborhoods

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — The letter carrier used to bring cold milk every day to Doug White's home in Connecticut. He was like family for 20 years.

"My little kids would run up to the door — 'The mailman! The mailman!' " White said.

Those times are gone. And now White may lose his neighborhood post office at 5206 N Florida Avenue in Seminole Heights — a possibility for 1,000 U.S. Postal Service locations nationwide as mail volume plummets along with the economy.

The Government Accountability Office added the Postal Service to its list of high-risk government agencies and programs. The agency is reviewing locations to cut in urban areas with plans to transfer employees as offices are consolidated.

But the loss of a post office means zapping a social spot for those in smaller areas, such as St. Pete Beach residents frequenting the Pass-A-Grille Station.

White knows he can pay his bills online, but he likes to send off the payments himself.

"It's part of like a comfort zone for folks, a routine they've found over years that they can trust the Postal Service to handle their business," said Gary Sawtelle, a Postal Service spokesman.

It could use more customers like White. Mail volume dropped by 9 billion pieces in the 2008 fiscal year. It could be another 20 billion this year.

Thirteen offices in the Tampa Bay region made the list of possible closings. Officials will form a shorter list in coming months, and the earliest date for any changes is Sept. 30.

It's too early to determine the possibility of layoffs.

Two other post offices are more or less 2 miles away from the Seminole Heights location. But this building with a public bus stop maintains a steady line for a few clerks inside. Hummers, vans and Jeeps shuffle in an out of one row of parking spots.

Carmen Lopez is there in five minutes. She picks up letters and clothes sent from her two daughters, and drops off toys for her 5-year-old granddaughter living in Puerto Rico. She sent pencils, crayons and SpongeBob SquarePants notebooks for a new school year.

Another office means more gas, more time and probably fewer visits.

Inside, a post office box has been Darby White's for 12 years as a daily aid to his process serving company.

Another post office box holds up to four letters and checks from advertisers every day for the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association. It has for 20 years.

"It's a shame to see it go, but I fully understand they're having to cut back just like everybody else," said Jeff Harmon, the association's president.

Consolidating postmarks in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties saved the Postal Service millions in 2007.

But it's $7 billion in the red this year. The agency doesn't get tax money. Its revenue comes from postage.

With fewer locations, Sawtelle expects more customers to use the Postal Service from their homes. Customers already can order supplies, print postage and arrange for package pickups. Thirty percent of customers send mail without stepping into an office.

Times researcher John Martin and information from The Washington Post contributed to this report. Ileana Morales can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.

What's next

Thirteen Tampa Bay locations are under review by the postal board for consolidation. A shorter list is expected in a few months, but no changes will come before late September. The five Hillsborough County locations under review are:

MacDill Air Force Base

8106 Condor St.

Tampa, FL 33608-9998

Port Tampa Station

6801 S West Shore Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33616-9998

Seminole Heights Station

5206 N Florida Ave.

Tampa, FL 33603-9998

Temple Terrace Branch

8633 N 56th St.

Tampa, FL 33617-7104

West Tampa Station

1802 N Howard Ave.

Tampa, FL 33607-9998

Post offices are part of their neighborhoods 08/04/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 4, 2009 11:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  2. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona


    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand


    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. Hillsborough County erects wooden barrier to protect Confederate monument from vandalism

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening.

    A Hillsborough County construction crew erects a wooden barrier around the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse Thursday, out of concern about potential vandalism. [Courtesy of WTSP]