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Mayor seeks help for city ZIP code

For the past 28 years, Clara Lee Selby has been on a campaign to get the city its own ZIP code.

She makes her case at nearly every commission meeting. She and a group of friends have submitted hundreds of signatures to City Hall. The petitioning has gone on so long that some of her supporters have died.

Now, Selby has a new ally in Mayor Mary Maloof. On a recent lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., Maloof and Public Works Director Don Hambidge made a trip to the U.S. Postal Service.

If her colleagues go along with the idea, the city could begin in the next few months to survey residents about a new ZIP code.

"It's going to cost us a little something, but it's worth it," Maloof said. The city would pay for a survey of residents and, assuming they approve the change, then would have to change its ZIP code on stationery.

Treasure Island shares the 33706 ZIP code and post office with St. Pete Beach.

"The problem is there are places in St. Petersburg that have similar addresses," said Maloof, who said she has heard from several residents whose mail has been returned because street names and ZIP codes don't match up.

Treasure Island has a Dolphin Drive and a Tarpon Drive. So does St. Petersburg. Treasure Island has its own set of numbered streets as well.

Selby said she returns things like catalogs addressed to her in St. Petersburg, FL.

"I keep telling everybody, "I don't live in St. Petersburg,' " she said. "I haven't lived there in years."

Selby, 83, is a retired real estate broker who sold condominiums on Treasure Island before some of the streets even had names.

Treasure Island has ZIP code 33740 for mailboxes located inside Books & Bagels on the Beach along 107th Avenue. (Post office boxes are coded differently from delivery areas so that mail is more easily sorted out).

Maloof said postal officials in Washington said the city could adopt 33740 if a majority of residents support the idea. She said the city would have a year to gather the survey data.

If the city does change its ZIP code, residents and business owners would have a grace period between the transition.

Selby said that would allow time for business owners to use up stationery with the existing ZIP code. "That's no problem though," Selby said. "You can get name tapes and put it over the old one or draw fish or other things to cover it up."

The meeting with U.S. postal officials was part of a two-day trip in which Maloof and Hambidge met with U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who recently secured $50-million in federal funds for the city to build its new bridge.

"It was a really great meeting," Maloof said. "He told us if we run into any roadblocks (with the bridge), to let him know and he'll take care of it."

Maloof and Hambidge also were assured by staff in Young's office that the city's requests for $900,000 in federal money to repair sewers and build new beach walkovers would be forthcoming.

The meetings in Washington were arranged by the city's lobbyists there, Alcalde and Fay.