Southampton Town streets with the same or similar names have prompted Rep. Lee Zeldin to propose new ZIP codes for Flanders, Riverside and Northampton hamlets.
The three communities, along with Riverhead, share the 11901 ZIP code. Within that area are 18 identical street names and 32 similar street names, "and possibly more," Zeldin (R-Shirley) said in announcing his effort Wednesday. The duplication makes it "very confusing" for carriers, leading to mail and packages being delivered to the wrong address, he said.
Sometimes mail and packages are even sent to Flanders, New Jersey, and many deliveries do not reach their destinations at all, being marked "return to sender" or "address unknown," Zeldin said. "These packages can hold important goods like medications, which are critical for a person's health and well-being."
Similar addresses in the same ZIP code "can also cause major problems for police, first responders and other emergency personnel, who may arrive at the wrong address due to these shared street names with the same ZIP code," Zeldin said.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said in a telephone interview Wednesday that getting separate ZIP codes for the hamlets has long been discussed but local fixes weren't possible.
"It is something that I know is important to the constituents in that area, and I always hoped we could get something through, but it is something we cannot effectuate through the town -- the post office is a federal issue," she said.
"It's a mess," Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, said of the ZIP code concerns, adding that talk of getting new designations goes back at least 15 years. Taldone was among dozens of residents who attended Zeldin's news conference to announce the effort.
"We have friends and family who deal with this problem all the time," Taldone said. "You have guests calling to say, 'I can find your street but I can't find your house,' and you have to tell them, 'You're in the wrong town.' "
With the dependence on GPS systems today and revitalization efforts underway in Riverhead, Taldone said having the separate ZIP codes is a must.
"You can't just enter ZIP codes on a GPS like you can for other locations," he said. "The problem's only going to get worse with the Riverhead revitalization projects -- there will be a lot of new businesses and new residents and it's only going to make it worse."
Zeldin sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service requesting that each of the hamlets be assigned new, unique ZIP codes -- possibly 11902, 11903 and 11904 -- to make them distinguishable from one another and from Riverhead Town.
An answer from the postmaster is expected within 60 days, Zeldin said.