A group of “midnight mailmen” visited homes in the Green Acres development in New Paltz early Sunday morning, and their deliveries were not well-received. Several mailboxes were pulled from the ground, post and all, as was the sign at the front of the net-zero-energy home development, which is still under construction. Residents were shocked and disappointed by the destruction, a first in this quiet neighborhood behind the community center.
Developer Anthony Aebi was there Saturday afternoon, and at that time mailboxes and sign were intact. The builder confirmed that the curbside boxes were mounted on four-by-four posts with just a post-hole digger. They weren’t put in cement because that makes it more difficult to replace a post when it eventually rots out, or the mailbox if it’s damaged during winter plowing.
Jacob Lawrence didn’t see any damage when he returned home around 1 a.m. Sunday morning. He and his wife, Sue Busby, have lived in their house on Cooper Street for seven years and were on Bonticou View Road before that. He couldn’t recall any prior incidents of this type.
When Richard Webb went out to fetch the paper Sunday morning, he noticed right away that his and several other mailboxes were lying on the ground. He called the police, and got a very quick response. As Webb recounted it, the responding officer speculated that a group of people, possibly students, pulled them out of the ground as they were headed into, or back from, a night on the town.
“This was not an old-fashioned baseball-bat-out-the-car-window,” Webb said; the mailboxes would have sustained more damage. “It could have been worse,” but he is nevertheless disappointed to “think that there are people who think that’s okay.”
Lawrence also found out what had happened the following morning, and what followed was a flurry of text messages among neighbors to determine how far the damage had spread. He believed most of the damage was along Cooper where the mailboxes are on one side of the road, with another one pulled up on Bonticou. His own was dented as if hit by a blunt object; like most neighbors he quickly returned it to its hole, but it will need to be replaced.
Builder Aebi had not yet seen the damage, but speculated that two people working together could move one of the mailboxes back and forth to loosen it, and then lift it from the post hole. The Green Acres sign had also been removed, with one of the posts sustaining damage; Aebi thought that would take at least three people to accomplish.