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USPS to Buckland: It’s ‘complicated’

  • The post office in Buckland. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Monday, February 06, 2017

BUCKLAND — The United State Postal Service has received the Selectmen’s request to reduce the number of ZIP codes serving this town of 1,900 people from four ZIP codes to two.

But what, if anything, the Postal Service can do about it is “complicated,” says Christine Dugas, a Postal Service spokeswoman.

“It’s a complicated, in-depth process,” said Dugas. She said she could not speak about Buckland’s specific request, but about the general process when a community wants a ZIP code change or a new ZIP code of its own.

ZIP codes were established solely for the efficient movement of the mail,” she said. “They were never established to signify geographical regions, school district boundaries, or insurance rates,” she said.

“It does take quite a bit of study. It is a long process, and one that affects everyone,” said Dugas. “People are getting mail from everywhere — so all these data bases all over the world must be changed. The complication comes when you have duplicate addresses or duplicate post box numbers. This means some customers will have to change addresses, she said.

For instance, what happens if a home address in ZIP code A (121 State St.) is the same as another address in ZIP code B — but the two homes in different communities end up with the same ZIP code. How would that affect 911 calls, or prevent mail mix-ups? What if some people have to change their addresses, to avoid confusion. Would they be willing to do it?

Another issue can be of finding a new ZIP code for new or growing communities. East Coast regions have ZIP codes that begin with a zero and West Coast areas’ ZIP codes begin with “9.”

“They’re reviewed to see what’s available and what’s possible,” she said.

Dugas said USPS has changed ZIP codes before, “but it has to be more than (that) people want it for (community) identity,” she said. “And they have to get a consensus of people willing to change their address.”

She said Buckland’s request will be reviewed and if postal officials feel the request could be done, they may come back to the town and ask if there is consensus among residents for the change.

“Do you have consensus? That is often the biggest stumbling block,” she said. “For every 60 people that want to do it, you may have 200 that don’t.”

Destination: D.C.

If the request is approved by the local postal district it must go on to Washington, D.C., and get approval at the highest level.

Buckland recently asked the postal service to put all its households under just two ZIP codes: Shelburne Falls (01370) for all within the village, and Buckland (01338) for all rural areas south of Shelburne Falls, to the Ashfield border. The town currently shares the ZIP codes of Ashfield (01330) and Charlemont (01339).

The problems caused by ZIP code confusion have included voter registration, excise taxes being sent to the wrong town, delayed mail receipts and errors on birth and death certificates. Also, state agencies have apparently used ZIP code-based data, which may have resulted in miscalculations for the town’s educational funding.