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Idea for a new post office returned to sender
But Wesley Chapel could get another "contract" office, the Postal Service says.
By CHUIN-WEI YAP
Published June 15, 2007
WESLEY CHAPEL - It's official.
Despite years of lobbying from residents, the U.S. Postal Service won't be setting up a standalone post office in Wesley Chapel.
Gary Sawtelle, USPS' district spokesman, said there's not enough money for one.
"We're experiencing rapid growth throughout the district," he said. "We don't have the budget to put post offices everywhere."
Wesley Chapel has one "contract" post office, on Boyette Road at State Road 54.
Locals like its friendly atmosphere, but have long complained of its narrow 2,000 square feet, with barely enough parking spaces for 10 cars.
It's not a standalone post office, in the sense of an office set up by the USPS. "Contract" offices are existing businesses that offer postal services under agreements with USPS.
The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce got the bad news when members met USPS officials Monday.
But Sawtelle had a suggestion: the chamber could help bring a second "contract" post office to the area.
"We're not building a lot of new offices any more," he said. "We're doing a lot of contracting. It would be the quickest and best approach to another site for postal services."
The USPS pays to train the contractor and renovate the office to make it look like a post office, Sawtelle said.
The chamber is now starting to look for a location and tenant that could fit the bill.
"We're definitely leaning west of Interstate 75," said Jason Wilson, the chamber's executive director. "Possibly where Cypress Creek Town Center is, or in that area."
Wilson said Thursday he hasn't spoken to the folks at the existing Wesley Chapel post office yet. He's just starting to work out whether this plan might call for a new contract office, a branch of the existing one, or to relocate the existing one.
Kelly Rossi, Wesley Chapel's postmaster, doesn't think she'll set up a new shop.
"You have to find people to run it, on the little bit that you can give them," she said. "I sank a ton of money in the business. It's not feasible for me to open another one."
Off the top of his head, Sawtelle said new standalone USPS offices are slated in only Manatee and Charlotte counties, also high-growth areas.
Meanwhile, Wesley Chapel grows - so much, in fact, that the USPS just added another ZIP code to the area: 33545.
Why? The Postal Service ran out of numbers for the two existing codes for Wesley Chapel.
"Apart from the five-digit ZIP Codes, we also have an additional four digits," Sawtelle said. "We ran out of those four-digit codes."
The USPS will still deliver mail to the old ZIP codes until July 1, 2008.
The area has 18, 673 residents and 356 businesses, according to ZIP code data.
Sawtelle couldn't tell when it was that Wesley Chapel last got a new ZIP code.
"We usually plan for that to be good for 20 years," he said.