On May 9, 2012, the U.S. Postal Service announced a new strategic plan that could save the nation’s smallest post offices, while providing a framework to achieve significant cost savings in an effort to return the organization to financial stability.
The plan which includes the Pasco offices of Crystal Springs, Lacoochee, Saint Leo, Trilby, and Aripeka, would keep the existing offices in place but with modified hours to match customer use.
According to the Tampa Tribune, U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Enola Rice said the reduction of hours are to the number of hours the postmaster works, and not necessarily the hours the post offices are open to customers.
According to a Postal Service press release, “Access to the retail lobby and to PO Boxes would remain unchanged, and the town’s ZIP Code and community identity would be retained.”
So, that raises the debate: Should the five rural but historic post offices in Pasco County be saved through the plan or be discontinued all together?
Let’s take a look back at how long these institutions have served the residents of Pasco County and then you decide.
Trilby Post Office
One of the oldest post offices considered under the plan is the Trilby Post Office, which was originally established on January 6, 1885 by Harrison K. Bankston as the McLeod Post Office.
According to the original post office application, at that time, the community had a population of “about 100,” but the office would also serve a large population to the east of the community—the vicinity of today’s Lacoochee.
Twenty-three days later, on January 29, 1885, the name of the post office was changed from McLeod to Macon—the name of the Florida Southern Railroad depot situated less than 100 yards east of the new office. Bankston continued in his capacity as postmaster.
And, while the Trilby town site was surveyed and platted in June 1896 the name of Macon was retained for its post office until January 17, 1901, when it finally took the name of Trilby.
Today, the Trilby Post Office is located at 37451 Trilby Road, and according to censusviewer.com, the community’s population in 2010 was a reported 419.
Lacoochee Post Office
On May 22, 1888, less than two miles east of Trilby, the Lacoochee Post Office was established by William Isadora Acosta.
Prior to the Lacoochee Post Office opening, the area was served by the nearby Macon/ Trilby Post Office.
According to the original Lacoochee Post Office application, at that time, Acosta estimated that the new office would serve a population of about 50 or 60, while Lacoochee’s inhabitants numbered 30 or 40.
Located directly at the crossing of the F.R.& N. Railroad and the Orange Belt Railroad, the original Lacoochee Post Office was within 80 feet of the Lacoochee depot.
Today, the Lacoochee Post Office is located at 38915 State Road 575, and according to censusviewer.com, the community’s population in 2010 was a reported 1,714.
Saint Leo Post Office
On October 18, 1890, the Rev. F. Charles, O.S.B. received approval from the Postmaster General to established the Saint Leo Post Office, noted in the original application as the Saint Leo College Post Office.
At that time, the office was to serve a population of “about 100 and was located two miles in a westerly direction from the San Antonio Post Office and about ¼ mile south of the Orange Belt Railroad, Saint Leo depot.
Today, the Saint Leo Post Office is located at 33601 State Road 52, and according to censusviewer.com, the community’s population in 2010 was reportedly 1,340.
If closed, residents would have the option of utilizing the nearby San Antonio Post Office or traveling into Dade City.
Aripeka Post Office
Originally located on the Hernando side of the county line, one of the smallest post offices in Pasco County’s history is the Aripeka Post Office, established February 11, 1895 by George Pine.
According to U.S.P.S. records, prior to the Aripeka Post Office this area was served in succession by the Gulf Key Post Office and Argo Post Office, and, in 1898, the Wheeler Post Office which was located on the Pasco side of the county line.
In 1905, U.S.P.S. records show, Aripeka was a small farming community, and the office supplied mail to about 20 families.
In April 1921, then postmaster James B. Kolb received approval to move the Aripeka Post Office from Indian Creek in Hernando County to Hammock Creek on the Pasco side of the county line, and the post office has since remained in Pasco.
Today, the Aripeka Post Office is located at 18925 Aripeka Road and is situated just south of Hammock Creek. According to censusviewer.com, the community’s population in 2010 was reportedly 308.
If closed, residents would have to utilize the Hudson Post Office or Spring Hill Post Office.
Crystal Springs Post Office
On October 4, 1911, seven months before the platting of the Crystal Springs town site, William H. Brophy received approval from the Post Master General to establish the Crystal Springs Post Office in southeastern Pasco County.
The most recent U.S.P.S. strategic plan is not the first time the services of the Crystal Spring Post Office have been in jeopardy.
On January 27, 1955 the office was discontinued by orders of the Postmaster General, effective February 28, 1955. However, before the orders to discontinue the office could take effect it was rescinded and the office remained open.
Today, the Crystal Spring Post Office is located at 1425 Paul S. Buchman Highway. According to censusviewer.com, the community’s population in 2010 was reportedly 1,327.
If closed, residents would have to utilize the nearby Zephyrhills Post Office.
Other Options Under the U.S.P.S. Strategic Plan
The new strategic plan would be phased in over two years and changes are scheduled to be completed by September 2014.
Before changes are made, the plan will have to be reviewed and accepted by the Postal Regulatory Commission, followed by a series of community meetings.
The communities affected by the changes will be notified by mail of meeting dates, times, and locations, at which time they will have the opportunity to consider other options under the plan.
According to the U.S.P.S. press release, those other options are:
- Providing mail delivery in the affected community by rural carrier or highway contract route.
- Contracting with a local business to create a village post office.
- Offering service from a nearby post office.
Megan Brennan, postal service chief operating officer said, “"The post offices in rural America will remain open unless a community has a strong preference for one of the other options. We will not close any of these rural post offices without having provided a viable solution.”
According to a survey conducted in February by Opinion Research Corporation, 54% of rural customers would prefer a reduction of hours to maintain their local post office. 46% prefer one of the alternative options (20% prefer Village Post Office, 15% prefer services at a nearby post office, 11% prefer expanded rural delivery.)
Based on the 2010 census figures, do you think these historic rural post offices should be saved under the new U.S.P.S. strategic plan or should they be discontinued for further cost savings?