Massive middle finger stirs controversy in Westford

WESTFORD, Vt. (WCAX) Steps from Route 128 in Westford a towering sculpture stands. We can't show you it but people in town can tell you what they see when they drive by.

"It's a big middle finger. Really high above the tree line," said Deanna Wilcox of Fairfax.

"It's a big hand with a fist with one finger lifted up in an expression that we all know what it means," said Mark Sustic of Fletcher.

And while we all know what the expression means, most people we spoke with wanted to know why it was put there.

"You can't believe somebody went through all that work. It's very big. Everybody got the message. But a lot of work went into it," said Carol Jordan of Fairfax.

We went to the owner to find out.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: So who is the statue intended for?
Ted Pelkey/Sculpture owner: It's intended for the people who run the town of Westford.

Pelkey says it stems from a long-running dispute with the town over whether he can develop his property. He'd like to move his truck repair and monofilament recycling business there so he can take on more business and not pay rent in Swanton. But he says the town keeps putting up barriers and he believes members of the town development review board have a personal grudge against him.

"In my eyes, if somebody tells you they hate you right up front it's a hate crime," Pelkey said.

Development Review Board minutes from last fall show the board was concerned about how the building would be used, among other things. Pelkey says he feels those are delay tactics. So he spent $4,000 to make a point.

Cat Viglienzoni: What do you hope happens after this?
Ted Pelkey: I'm hoping we can 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.

We asked people how they felt and they were mixed.

"It's very odd," Wilcox said. "And certainly not the love that I hope everybody is spreading in the world today that we really need."

"I wasn't offended," Sustic said. "It's somebody's expression and it didn't hurt anybody as far as I know except for maybe somebody's feelings."

We wondered if there was anything the town could do about this and called the select board. The select board told WCAX News that because this is considered public art, there's nothing they can do about it.