For years, residents in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton hamlets have had to use Riverhead’s ZIP Code and have pushed for a postal code of their own.
This week, the United States House of Representatives sided with them.
During its session Wednesday evening, The House passed H.R. 6303, a piece of legislation which includes a section directing the postal service to create a new, unique ZIP Code for the three hamlets. The entire bill — which was sponsored by Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah — passed unanimously by a voice vote.
Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who supported the bill, said the hamlets and Riverhead currently share the same ZIP Code, despite there being more than a dozen streets with identical names and many more with similar street names.
“This causes a number of issues, including delay of mail and packages, which can hold important goods like medications,” Mr. Zeldin said in a statement. “Shared street names can also delay the response time of emergency and medical personnel in situations where every second counts.”
Ron Fisher, president of the Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association, said his neighbors were “ecstatic” about the news.
“This is a huge step in the right direction,” he said. The new zip code will not only clear up street name confusion but will also help officials understand demographics better, make it easier to apply for grants and funding, and determine how many kids enter the Riverhead central school district from the area.
Vince Taldone, treasurer for the organization, added a new zip code would also be useful in the future. A long-discussed Riverside revitalization plan aims to create a thriving downtown scene in the area, and a new ZIP Code would help differentiate the Riverside area and neighborhoods from Riverhead’s own downtown.
Mr. Zeldin also praised the bill as an “important step forward.” In 2015, Mr. Zeldin had petitioned the United States Postal Service directly to create a new ZIP Code for the area, but that request was ultimately denied.
Both Mr. Taldone and Mr. Fisher thanked Mr. Zeldin and his office for their efforts to research how to get a new ZIP Code approved.
“His office produced the federal law for how to get the ZIP Code,” Mr. Fisher said. “He went the extra mile and really understood how we could do this successfully.”
The House’s bill to create the zip code doesn’t need a Senate sponsor to be approved. It has not yet been taken up by the Senate. But members of FRNCA are calling Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to earn their support. Mr. Fisher said a sponsor on the bill could move the legislation along faster, possibly by the end of the year.
“We feel like it would give it a little more priority to pass in the lame duck session,” he said. “It really matters to us.”
Photo caption: At a press conference Tuesday, Congressman Lee Zeldin (center), state Senator Ken LaValle (left) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele announce the impending U.S. House vote for a new, unique ZIP Code for Flanders, Riverside and Northampton. (Credit: courtesy, Lee Zeldin)