Bryan T. Cimeno, 22, had been donating his time and labor to landscape the area around 9 Lagoon Pond Road, owned by the U.S. Postal Service and home to the post office and Cumberland Farms. Others had pitched in to donate plants and money for the project.
But Steve Doherty, corporate communications specialist for the U.S. Postal Service Northeast area, said the postal service is not allowed to accept donations of any kind.
“By law we are prohibited from taking donations of any goods or services and landscaping services would fall under that,” he said, speaking to the Gazette by phone Tuesday. “Much the same way with your carrier at Christmas it’s okay to give him a fruitcake to share with the office, but not okay to give him a $20 bill.”
Mr. Cimeno, who owns Bryan Taylor Cimeno Fence and Landscape, was doing the work in honor of his late uncle, Derek Cimeno, the well-known Tisbury shellfish constable who died in 2009.
He said the plan was to renovate the area along the strip. “We wanted to put in benches and a birdbath and sign that said welcome to Martha’s Vineyard,” he said. “It was such a dustbowl before.”
About three to four weeks ago, Mr. Cimeno asked postmaster Debra Chickering for permission to do some landscaping work to improve the area. Actual work began two weeks ago. The project received praise from community members, pleased by the improvements to the area. There was an outpouring of support for the project on social media.
Then on Monday Mr. Cimeno received an unexpected call.
“We approached the postmaster, she was all on board,” he said. “We got a call last night, the supervisor said they wanted us to cease our efforts until further notice.”
An online fundraising page that had been created on Go Fund Me and had raised nearly $2,000 was also taken down. Other community members had donated goods in-kind including plants from Heather Gardens, Vineyard Gardens and water from the Island Color Center.