Considering that New Tampa has had its own full-service U.S. Post Office for more than 20 years, it was hard for me to understand why Wesley Chapel has only had a Contract Postal Unit (CPU). In fact, it wasn’t until after I moved out of the community around Saddlebrook Resort in 1995, that Kelly Rossi, who has had the contract to run the CPU in Wesley Chapel for 26 years, took over the operation of the local CPU.
But, I have been one of the most frequent customers there ever since, especially since Kelly moved the unit to its current location on Boyette Rd. (after a short stint in a trailer where the current Kia dealership on S.R. 54 is located) a couple of years later.
I can’t even tell you how many times I heard Kelly and her long-time “right hand” Gini Ruggiero explain to customers that if they received notices from the U.S. Postal Service about a piece of Certified or Registered mail or anything they had to sign for, they would have to make the 25-minute (or more) drive to the Zephyrhills Post Office to do so.
Even so, Kelly, Gini and the rest of the staff at the Wesley Chapel CPU, which also had a variety of cute gifts for sale, sold stamps, taped up and accepted Express Mail and Priority Mail packages for mailing and did virtually everything else a “real” post office does other than actually deliver the mail.
The bottom line is that Kelly says she notified the Zephyrhills Post Office in October that it was finally time for her to retire and that Dec. 31, would be her last day. She and Gini are probably still packing up the remaining items in the converted trailer as you’re reading this, so they can vacate the building by Feb. 1.
“It was a very hard decision (to leave),” Kelly said. “I have loved serving the people of Wesley Chapel and I have received such wonderful feedback and made so many really good friends that have become like family to me. But, I haven’t been able to spend much time with my husband and ten grandchildren. It’s just time for new adventures.”
So, What’s Next For The CPU?
David Walton, who is in Corporate Communications with the U.S. Postal Service, told me in an email that although there are still no plans for Wesley Chapel to get its own full-service post office, there is still an opportunity for someone to become a new Wesley Chapel CPU contractor, although he notes that it may not necessarily be in the same location.
“The previous CPU was located in a leased facility,” Walton wrote in his email. “CPU operators need to provide their own space. I bet if (interested parties) contact the previous CPU operator, she would gladly share the name of her former landlord.”
And, even though I had been previously told that a new Wesley Chapel CPU contractor had already been selected, Walton said at our press time, “It’s my understanding things never materialized with the other party who had expressed interest. If (anyone) is still interested, I would highly recommend they reach out to the Zephyrhills Postmaster.”
Kelly believes the earliest a new CPU can open here is the end of Feb. or the beginning of March, but until that happens, Wesley Chapel residents will have to travel to Zephyrhills, Land O’Lakes, Lutz or New Tampa for postal services without additional convenience charges.
As to why Wesley Chapel isn’t getting its own full-service post office, Walton said:
“The Postal Service closely monitors growing communities. We expand service when necessary to meet our customers’ needs and to maintain a quality level of service. However, community growth in itself is not sufficient cause to establish an independent Post Office. We generally consider establishment of an independent Post Office when present postal facilities fail to meet the needs of the community.”
We will keep you posted about the CPU.