$20 gift limit halts community project at Vineyard post office

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. — The Vineyard Haven Post Officer was surrounded by overgrown weeds and adorned with a rotting wooden fence.

But when 22-year-old Bryan Cimeno saw it, he knew it would make for a good project.

In just a couple of weeks, word spread that Cimeno had turned a small, ugly patch outside the post officer into a beautiful bed of flowers.

“It generated a lot of traction so people started asking where they could donate, or where they could donate flowers,” Cimeno told Boston 25 News.

A GoFundMe page was set up to accept donations, but that’s where the problem began.

Cimeno says he had the blessing of the local postmaster, who he says didn't have the budget for the upkeep. But a few weeks into the project, Cimeno received some discouraging news from a postmaster supervisor.

It turns out, the post office is not allowed to accept gifts greater than $20.  And the work that had been done far exceeded that.

“They asked us to stop and it was really a shame,” said Cimeno.

Larry Gomez thinks so too. He's a selectman who'd like to see the project move forward.

“I think [it’s] ridiculous the way the federal government is using their so-called regulations to put the kibosh on a community service,” said Gomez.

He added he's hoping the town can bridge the gap between the federal government and Cimeno's efforts.

But for now, the project is in limbo.

The Postal Service sent the following statement to Boston 25 News:

"As employees of the Executive Branch of the federal government, the Postal Service operates under strict requirements in its ability to accept or to solicit gifts, funds, services or donations. While we appreciate the sentiment behind the donation for physical improvements in Vineyard Haven, the Postal Service has made the decision to restrict its gift-acceptance authority with respect to such gifts and will decline offers to donate any physical improvements, including, without limitation, exterior improvements such as landscaping. At this time there is no decision to remove the completed landscaping, however we will not accept additional donations."

MORE: Boston Medical Center urban garden serving up veggies to patients