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Weeki Wachee: A stamp of approval

Linda Pedersen almost mailed another batch of bills with a Spring Hill return address Monday.

Then she got a call from Tom Macgilligan, Brooksville's postmaster, saying the U.S. Postal Service had finally approved Weeki Wachee as a postal designation.

"I went back and did a couple of address changes," the happy Weeki Wachee Shores resident said.

Pedersen and other members of a Weeki Wachee area organization had gathered hundreds of signatures since March from residents who live along the Weeki Wachee River and who sought the change of address.

She praised Macgilligan for his help in winning the designation, especially after the March 13 storm and flood washed away dozens of signatures. "The post office took our word for those," Pedersen said.

Until Monday, if someone sent a letter to Pedersen in Weeki Wachee and omitted the ZIP code, the parcel might never have made it. According to post office computers, her home on Richard Drive was in Spring Hill.

The new designation is optional, Macgilligan said. Residents and businesses may still choose to say they are in Brooksville or Spring Hill. The ZIP codes do not change.

"The point is, the people now have a choice," Macgilligan said. "Some down in Lake In The Woods might want to be called Spring Hill. That's fine. People in The Heather might want to continue to use Brooksville. That's fine, too. One or the other."

No boundaries exist for the area, but Macgilligan described it as roughly running south from Bourassa Boulevard and west of power lines that pass near HCA/Oak Hill Hospital. It reaches as far west as the Gulf of Mexico and includes Bayport and Pine Island, as well as the small neighborhoods along the Weeki Wachee River. The area extends as far south on the west side of U.S. 19 as Regency Oaks and Lake In The Woods.

"The important thing is that the mail addressed to Weeki Wachee will get here from Houston, Texas, or Sacramento, Calif., or Casper, Wyo. Now (post office computers will) know where Weeki Wachee is," Pedersen said.

Lost mail was not often a problem. But many residents sought the postal designation on principle. They felt closer to the river environment than to the bustling burgh of Spring Hill a few miles away.

"It's more about how you identify with where you live," Pedersen said. "We think in terms of Weeki Wachee as being a kind of a casual waterfront community that's entirely different from Spring Hill. We have no quarrel with Spring Hill, but we think of it as the community next door, not the community where we live."

The communities affected

The U.S. Postal Service on Monday approved Weeki Wachee as a mailing address for many residents living in the 34607 and 34613 ZIP code areas. However, officials say the designation is optional for those who prefer to remain affiliated with Spring Hill or Brooksville. The following subdivisions and housing developments

are included:

Weeki Wachee Hills Weeki Wachee Retreats

Weeki Wachee Gardens Weeki Wachee Shores

Palm Grove Colony Bayport

Pine Island Glen Lakes

The Heather River Country Estates

Regency Oaks Happy Acres

Highland Lakes Estates