Post Office is ready to let it grow

Says plants can stay, but no more donations will be accepted.

The Postal Service now says it won't remove flower gardens from the Vineyard Haven post office planted by Bryan Cimeno. — Stacey Rupolo

Bryan Cimeno Jr. won’t have to remove his plants from the Vineyard Haven Post Office after all, a Post Office spokesman told The Times Wednesday.

“There are no plans to uproot the plants,” spokesman Steve Doherty said, a reversal of what he told The Times last week. Moving forward, the Post Office will not accept any more donations, Mr. Doherty said.

Mr. Cimeno, 22, is happy with the results, but not done with his push against bureaucracy.

“I think it’s great, but we still have work to do so we can continue,” he said. “I can’t leave the job unfinished; it doesn’t look professional.”

On Tuesday, the Tisbury Board of Selectmen voted to send a letter to postal officials, as well as federal representatives, urging that they accept the generous gift of landscaping by Mr. Cimeno and his dad.

Calling the decision to stop the project “emblematic of the disconnect” between the federal government and local communities, selectman Melinda Loberg, who crafted the letter supported by her colleagues, asked that postal authorities rethink their policies.

“Our local Post Office has, for many years, been an eyesore, with scant landscaping and little attention to care of the property and trash pickup. It sits literally in the center of Island life at a major intersection, and is visited daily by most everyone in our town and some of the neighboring ones, not to mention the thousands of tourists who visit,” she wrote. “Despite overtures by town government and caring community members with offers of help, the Post Office policy discourages outsiders from voluntary landscaping, but the Post Office is not itself responsive and, apparently, does not care about its appearance or the impact it has on the community. The reason given is that the ‘budget doesn’t allow for it.’”

Mr. Cimeno was pleased with support from selectmen and the community as a whole. “Wow, that’s great,” he said of the board’s letter. “Hopefully, it will get more attention, and if we keep pressing, we’ll get the result we need.”

In email to The Times last week, Mr. Doherty wrote that federal guidelines do not allow the Post Office to accept donations of goods and services. He also quoted the law on ethics that requires federal employees to reject gifts with a monetary value.

Mr. Cimeno had a scare on Friday. He called The Times to say someone had yanked the plants. They hadn’t. It’s likely whoever told Mr. Cimeno was looking at the flower beds that he weeded, but had not yet planted with flowers.

Mr. Cimeno and his father, Bryan Cimeno Sr., own a landscaping business, and asked permission to do the plantings in memory of Derek Cimeno, their uncle and brother, who served as Tisbury shellfish constable.

“If everything was donated free, why would they want this to stop?” selectmen chairman Larry Gomez said. “This is ridiculous that this is happening.”

The planting and the Post Office’s subsequent decision to tell them to halt it has gained wider attention in recent days, with a Boston TV station picking up on it, Mr. Gomez said.

“They should get some air play,” selectman Tristan Israel said. He called the regional management of the Post Office “the most elusive people in the world.”

“This may be an opportunity to unlock the door to the higher-ups at the Post Office,” Ben Robinson, chairman of the planning board, said, noting that the subject is also on that board’s agenda.

Fire Chief John Schilling pointed out that the Friends of Tisbury had previously donated plants at the same site. “We have a long history that it was done this way,” he said. “No one individual was receiving the donation. The ethical argument doesn’t hold water.”