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Zeldin brings chairman of House committee that oversees postal service to Flanders for meeting on zip code request

September 18, 2016
In The News

Congressman Lee Zeldin brought the chairman of the House committee that oversees the U.S. Postal Service to Flanders yesterday to meet residents who’ve been seeking a separate zip code for their area for more than 15 years.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and sponsor of the Postal Service Reform Act, sat down with residents outside the Big Duck on Flanders Road yesterday evening to hear their concerns and reassure them their request is moving forward.

Residents of Flanders, Riverside, and Northampton cited problems with lost mail, confused visitors, and first responders being unable to find houses that have the same or similar addresses as those in the Riverhead Town portion of the 11901 postal code.

Carl Iacone, a 25-year resident of Flanders expressed his frustration over waiting through the terms of three congressmen without any results.

“I hope you’re not going to be the fourth,” he told Zeldin. “I’d like to know you as the one who got us the zip code.”

Christy Findlay and her mom Carol, both Flanders residents, shared stories of lost mail, visitors ending up in the wrong town, and problems inputting data into computers that don’t recognize the difference between Flanders and Riverhead addresses.

“There are much smaller hamlets [in the region] that have their own zip codes,” said Chrissy Prete.

Vince Taldone, past president and board member of the Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association, pointed out that the new zoning in Riverside, part of an ongoing revitalization effort there, will allow for major redevelopment and increase the need for a new zip code.

Chaffetz’s Postal Service Reform Act includes a provision — added at Zeldin’s request — that mandates a new zip code Flanders, Riverside and Northampton by September 2017.

Zeldin explained why he was anxious to have Congressman Chaffetz present, saying that the United States Postal Service reports to the Oversight and Government Reform committee of which Chaffetz is chairman, and that the congressman has experience navigating the process of securing new zip codes.

Chaffetz said the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a committee established in 1814 to oversee all federal government expenditures has jurisdiction over the U.S. Postal Service, which he described as a failing enterprise in need of an overhaul.

He acknowledged the problems resulting from confusing zip codes, but said the importance of zip codes goes beyond mail delivery and affects federal grants are awarded and how the census is taken.

“It’s not just about delivering the right mail to the right box or to the right home. It’s also about how the government doles out and assesses things,” Chaffetz said.

A bipartisan measure, the sweeping Postal Reform Act was passed out of committee on July 13 and Chaffetz said he expects it to come to the floor of the House “in the November-December time frame.” A separate, though similar, bill is pending in the U.S. Senate. Identical bills must be adopted by both chambers in order to be sent to the president for signing. If signed, the bill then becomes law.

“If that big bill passes, this will be in it,” Chaffetz told the dozen or so residents gathered at tables outside the Big Duck, with maps of the East End’s postal code boundaries laid out before them.
Chaffetz reassured the group he’d work hard to get the local zip code issue resolved even if his bill does not become law. He successfully got the postal service to add a new zip code for an area in his own congressional district in Utah.

“If it does not [pass] I can work with the postmaster general,” he said. The Long Island District manager last year denied Zeldin’s request for the new zip code.

“We had to do a mailer to everyone in the affected zip code” as part of the process, Chaffetz said of his own successful effort in Utah’s Third Congressional District.

“I’m committed to do that. I’m convinced by Lee Zeldin. He’s done the research and has all the background,” he told the group.

“I have always been very very careful to say that I absolutely am going to get a particular thing over the finish line,” Zeldin said. “What I’ve said is I will commit to work as hard as I possibly can to get it done.”