Do you think it is worth to spend $4000 on a statue that will to give the entire town the middle finger? Ted Pelkey from Westford, Vermont did.
His regular-sized hand was probably no longer effective, so he commissioned the statue to stand over the residents like a disheartening version of the Angel of the North or the Statue of Liberty.
His decision came after the battle to get a permit which would allow him to build a garage.
“We’ve been trying to put a business there for the past 10 years. It’s just never-ending. They’re railroading us really good.”
City officials discussed the project at length, and a board member maintained that “this development as proposed will cause the neighbors to suffer and reduce property values in the area.”
Therefore, being locked in a bitter dispute with the town of Westford, he decided to take matters into his own “hands”, by erecting a giant statue of a middle finger for all of them to see.
Pelkey also hoped his middle finger statue would “get it through to the people in the town of Westford to have a really long look at the people who are running their town.”
Ten years ago, he wanted to build an 8,000 square foot garage, so he could move his truck repair and monofilament recycling businesses to his own property, rather than working in the nearby town of Swanton.
However, the Westford Selectboard and Development Review Board blocked him from getting a permit. He battled for ten years, but they kept saying no, over and over again.
Therefore, the middle finger is directed at the town leaders.
Unfortunately, many others will be able to receive this statement.
Pelkey wanted to build the garage so he could move his truck repair and recycling businesses from nearby Swanton to his own property.
When he was turned down, he commissioned the statue for $4000. It’s made of a 700-pound block of pine and stands on top of a 16-foot high pole.
“I’ve been put through the wringer by these people, and it’s just not right. I haven’t been treated fairly at all. I was sitting at a bar and said to my wife, ‘Hey, I want to get a statue made of a middle finger, and I’m going to put it up on the lawn’.
The finger is surrounded by floodlights so it is visible at all times of the day and night.
He thought town officials would force him to take it down, but unfortunately, they cannot. Westford banned billboards, but since the giant middle finger statue is not an advertising business, it is therefore protected by free speech.
The statue belongs to the category of public art, and the owner said is the ‘most wonderful thing I’ve ever been told in my life.’
He explained that the statue is not devoted to the town’s residents:
“It was critical to me to make sure that my neighbors and the people who live in this town understood that I didn’t put that up there for them. It is aimed directly at the people who sit in our town office.
I’m not trying to cause hate and animosity to the people who live in that town, because there’s very good people in that town. All the people are very good people.”
He does not plan to take the statue soon, and even hopes that some good will come from the way he has shed light on the dispute.
“If you don’t want to look at the [garage], look at this.”
People on social media commented on the statue, and while some claim it was in poor taste, others state that it was a valiant piece of protest.
In an editorial, the Caledonian Record said it gave the town credit for “making the appropriate read of Pelkey’s First Amendment rights.”