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BEACH POST OFFICE GETS REPRIEVE

While the Corey Avenue branch is safe, Pass-a-Grille's might still close.

The Corey Avenue post office is no longer on the chopping block. But the nearby Pass-a-Grille branch is not so lucky.

Last month, both stations landed on a list of 13 post offices in the Tampa Bay area that were among 1,000 across the country being considered for closure. The Postal Service, which receives no tax dollars, faces a $7 billion budget deficit and is searching for ways to cut costs.

Postal officials said in August that all the stations on the list were being evaluated and that a decision would not come before October.

The St. Pete Beach station, at 250 Corey Ave., was taken off the list because agency officials completed their review and decided that closing the location would inconvenience too many customers, said Gary Sawtelle, a Postal Service spokesperson.

"We want to make sure there is good customer access available for our services after a consolidation," said Sawtelle.

In the past year, the Postal Service has begun trimming its budget by eliminating staff, restructuring routes, raising the price of a stamp by 2 cents and removing collection boxes, among other measures.

The Corey Avenue station employs six people and a few dozen letter carriers who deliver mail throughout the beaches. The nearest branch outside the city is in Gulfport.

"This is good news for the residents and the businesses of St. Pete Beach," said Kevin Hing, a resident who led a petition drive to save the branch.

The smaller Pass-a-Grille station at 103 Eighth Ave., employs just one person and offers only basic services. But locals say the station, which dates to 1905, adds considerable convenience and charm to a tiny business district that serves many elderly residents.

Luis Perez can be reached at lperez@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2271.

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