The Villages Voice - May 2011

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New Post Office for The Villages Unlikley

by Staff

New Post Office for The Villages Unlikely

Three years ago the Villages Homeowners Association lead a campaign for a new post office in The Villages, collecting over 20,000 signatures and the support of local and state officials.  Since that time, continuous efforts and multiple proposals to the U.S. Postal Service have not brought The Villages any closer to another postal facility.  In fact, the prospects of a new facility may be lower today than three years ago.

The ailing U.S. Postal Service will experience a net loss in fiscal 2011 similar to that of 2010, due to declining mail volumes that have contributed to net losses for the agency every year since 2007. The Postal Service expects that losses through 2011 will total $7.8 billion.

Drastic cutbacks by the USPS have been taking place to reduce the massive losses.  An initial list of 3200 post office stations and branches slated for potential cuts was reduced to 162, with Florida ranking 3rd most behind Ohio and California.  In March, our postal District was involved in consolidations that shifted The Villages zip codes from North Florida to the Sun Coast District headquartered in Tampa. The consolidations resulted in USPS job reductions of 1749 area and district jobs.

Local Postal Support and Cooperation Excellent

Our local postmaster’s headquarters at the main office in Lady Lake have participated in briefings and meetings to keep Villagers informed, and assist the VHA in its efforts to improve overall service.  However, the Postal Service has not been in a position to build any new facilities, and the USPS North Florida District turned down proposals by the VHA to establish a Contract Postal Unit in The Villages at a conveniently located Sumter Landing retail outlet.  A CPU would provide full postal services to residents with limited expenses to USPS beyond initial setup, while giving a benefit to a local merchant of additional foot traffic. 

The Villages Not Currently Eligible for a CPU

Recent discussions with the new USPS District Retail Director in Tampa revisiting the CPU option were sympathetic but also unproductive.  Tampa reviewed our postal statistics and reports that the average wait for service at the La Plaza Grande Postal Annex is 2 minutes and 21 seconds.  Even a CPU, with limited initial setup cost to USPS, would overly stress the Postal Service that needs more federal support to make payroll through the rest of the year.  Only regions with wait times exceeding 30 minutes wait times are being given any consideration for a Contract Postal Unit.

Local Efforts for Improved Postal Service

The VHA and local USPS gained the support of partners to provide a Mobile Postal Unit on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week at Sweetbay in Lake Sumter Landing.  This program has been very popular with Sweetbay and Villagers who average about 300 visits each day to the mobile unit.  The VHA and USPS are exploring expansion of this and other options to improve postal service to Villagers through this period of population growth in The Villages and financial crisis in USPS. 

The USPS Mobile Unit at Sweetbay in Lake Sumter Landing Averages about 300 visits per day on Tuesdays and Thursdays.