HOBART | Westfield Southlake mall and the nine square miles that surround it have been part of Hobart for nearly 20 years.
Yet many continue to refer to the Ross Township retail/residential corridor annexed by Hobart as Merrillville because the addresses remain with the 46410 ZIP code, Mayor Brian Snedecor said.
Hobart has a 46342 ZIP code.
"This might be the time to have dialogue to have the ZIP code related to Hobart and not Merrillville. It might just come about," Snedecor said.
He said he and other city officials have sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service in Indianapolis seeking the address change to reflect the annexed area's true geographic location.
"We did send a letter to Indianapolis trying to create some communications as to the reason why the addresses have remained and if there is any possibility for some adjustments. We've not heard anything back yet," Snedecor said.
Sharon Blinks, who serves as manager of address management for the U.S. Postal Service, said the letter of request from Hobart has been received.
"It's come to the district manager's office and will be reviewed and the mayor will receive a response," Blinks said.
She said she couldn't say how long it would take for the mayor to receive an answer.
This isn't the first time Hobart officials have requested the address change, former Mayor Linda Buzinec said.
Hobart officials requested the change shortly after the annexation took place in 1993, when Buzinec was serving as a councilwoman, and then later when she became mayor.
"I pushed it for a long time and wouldn't give it up," Buzinec said.
She said she was told by postal officials that the address change would mean rerouting of truck routes. Postal officials also said the loading dock at the downtown Hobart post office wasn't large enough.
"It was a shame because we went through so much to annex the mall area," Buzinec said.
In addition to correcting identity issues, Snedecor said he also has some public safety concerns.
"There are significant concerns with the new regional E-911 emergency communications center becoming a reality. It's a crucial time for public safety issues," Snedecor said.
The Merrillville-based addresses in Hobart also cause problems with city planning issues and permits.
"Someone went to get a building permit in Merrillville. It was issued to the individual, but then they found out it was in Hobart and not Merrillville," Snedecor said.
Police Chief Rick Zormier said 911 calls dispatched from the annexed area don't pose a present problem in responding to emergencies in the residential area.
There is some confusion with businesses, particularly new businesses, and sometimes, on traffic accident calls.
"People might not be sure of their location after an accident. And that poses a problem," Zormier said.
"Changing the ZIP code would mend some of the problems but not all of it. I do agree it is a good start to get past the identity crisis Hobart has experienced through the years," Zormier said.