|Boston Globe photo by Michael Swensen|
"For the past decade, Pelkey said, he has been attempting to move his business, Ted’s Truck and Trailer Repair, from the town of Swanton, 20-some miles away, to the 11.4 acres on which his home sits in Westford," Dugan Arnett reports for The Boston Globe. "The move would not only eliminate his daily 30-minute commute, he said, but save him thousands of dollars a year in rent. It would also require the construction of an 8,000-square-foot building on his property."
Town officials originally approved the move, but withheld the permit necessary to begin construction after a few neighbors complained to the state environmental court, Pelkey said. He estimated for the Globe that he has spent $100,000 in legal fees over the past 10 years in an expensive battle with Westford officials and the state's environmental court.
A few months ago, Pelkey, 54, said he got the idea for the middle finger sculpture as a way to get back at the town. He paid a local sculptor $3,000 to create the middle finger salute from a 7-foot-tall chunk of pine and hoisted it onto a 16-foot pole in his front yard, Arnett reports. Locals immediately noticed; some were horrified, but most thought it was funny.
Pam Sargent, who works at a local deli, told Arnett the town should "capitalize on it" and proposed selling t-shirts featuring the sculpture that say "Westford's Number 1."
Town officials were less amused, and told Arnett in emails that Pelkey "has a history of directing animosity toward town employees and town volunteer boards" and said the case is “definitely not a tale of David v Goliath."
Pelkey figured he'd be ordered to take it down in a few days, but it turns out that, because the piece is considered public art, the town can't make him. Arnett sums it up: "The bird, in other words, is free to soar. And it has."