Goodbye, Higley. The rural community in Gilbert is being eliminated as a ZIP code address as part of a decision by the U.S. Postal Service to change ZIP codes for nearly 70,000 Valley homes.
Nine new ZIP codes were created in the metropolitan Phoenix area, and 12 new ones statewide, including two in Gilbert, one in Chandler, one in Scottsdale and one in Queen Creek. The changes take effect July 1.
The post office reviews its ZIP codes annually, and makes changes that improve efficiency and reduce costs, Arizona postal spokesman Peter Hass said.
“New homes get built in certain areas, and that adds deliveries for us. ZIP codes have capacity limit,” he said. “It’s a system used for us to deliver mail in the most efficient way possible.”
Some residents, though, are outraged by the elimination of the Higley address, and have e-mailed Gilbert town officials complaining, Mayor Steve Berman said. As part of the change, Higley will only be used as a post office box address. The Higley Post Office will remain open.
“There is no such thing as a Higley,” Berman said, adding that over the years Gilbert has gotten calls from confused residents seeking Higley officials. “It was obviously confusing. It was something that needed to be addressed at some point in time.”
The longtime existence of the Higley Unified School District contributed to the confusion.
Town Manager George Pettit said the post office did not alert the town of the change in advance. But an aligned Gilbert postal system is something town officials have been advocating for 22 years to help alleviate confusion.
“This is a welcome correction,” Pettit said. “It’s unfortunate for taking so long, and that it affects so many people.”
Valleywide, 68,000 homes are getting letters advising of new ZIP codes. That includes almost 10,000 in Gilbert, about 5,000 in Scottsdale, about 14,000 in Chandler and about 6,000 in Queen Creek. The last new ZIP codes added in the Valley prior to this affected Mesa and Queen Creek in 2005.
Gilbert residents who had had Chandler addresses will also now have Gilbert addresses, as part of the change. However, some homes in the Chandler Heights region in Gilbert will still not have a Gilbert address.
“I’m frustrated at all the changes,” said Vinny Barone, owner of the San Tan Southwest Indian Arts Store at Higley and Williams Field Roads, once the core of the community. But while he’s had to change his business cards multiple times, and adjust to a Gilbert address, Barone added that, “I’m also happy for progress.”
“To me, it’s still Higley,” he said. “Mr. Higley built this house in 1930 for his daughter.”
The community was named after Stephen Weaver Higley, a farmer who owned the original parcel when it was a distant unincorporated community. In the 1970s, a massive strip-annexing effort by Gilbert surrounded the island, and much of it has annexed since.
County island resident Larry Krugen said many residents who considered themselves in Higley are adjusting to the change that is urbanizing their community.
“As time moves forward, everything changes,” he said. “It would be nice if it could have stayed Higley. I really think the autonomy has already pretty much been lost, except for the facet that there’s a Higley Unified School District.”
Mike Schroeter has long worked for Barone, and said Higley’s historic landmarks including the old buildings at their corner, will always be cherished by locals.
But to Gilbert resident Chris Petersen, who lives near Higley, “as far as I’m concerned, it’s all Gilbert to me.”