If you live in Nikiski, your address might say Kenai. Or maybe you have two addresses: one in Kenai, one in Nikiski. Confused?
So are a number of Nikiski residents who are hoping to establish a uniform ZIP code in the community. Nikiski's post office contractor says having two ZIP codes complicates mail delivery and leads to problems.
Right now, people who use home delivery have a 99611 ZIP code, meaning their mail is routed through the Kenai Post Office. About 800 Nikiski residents have a P.O. box in Nikiski's contracted post office, which is listed as ZIP code 99635.
Though Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey sent a letter to the United States Postal Service hoping to establish one ZIP code in Nikiski, the postal service said it isn't going to happen. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly also passed a resolution in support of Carey's letter.
Audrey Johnson, with Nikiski's post office, said continuity is important in mail delivery, especially nowadays when computers, not people, scan addresses on packages. Johnson said it's common that packages are late or not delivered at all because of computers not recognizing addresses in Nikiski with Kenai listings.
"I don't know that anybody has a percentage, but from the people who come in here and complain, it's not a small amount, and it's not going to get better," Johnson said.
Johnson said establishing one address would eliminate confusion.
"It would make it so much simpler. People live in Nikiski but may get mail in Kenai. Try to explain that to somebody who is Outside, that you may not live where you really live," Johnson said.
But, in response to Carey's letter, Joshua C. McCoy, an address management systems manager with Alaska's U.S. Postal Service district, said no changes will be made.
"When we put these considerations together and examine them, approval of the carrier delivery service to the 99635 ZIP code would be inviting operational difficulties," the letter said. "At minimum, approval would require the relocation of carriers, changes in processing and transportation schedules, establishing a regular post office, staffing the office, and significant administrative costs."
Nikiski has a contract post office that was established in 1971 and serves a population of about 5,000.
Ray Tauriainen, Nikiski's new assembly representative, said he'd like to see one address, but he remains realistic.
"It's just more straightforward. You live in Nikiski and have a Kenai name," Tauriainen said. "To me it would be nice if it could be changed, but based upon the post office's response, I don't think that's going to happen."
Carey said he will keep fighting for the change.
"I'm asking for it to be reviewed at the next level up," Carey said. "We're going to keep asking."
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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