Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Everyone has a breaking point. Neil Foisy hit his on Tuesday.
Foisy lives in the University Park Lofts, a building of condominiums surrounded by Walpole, Gates and Illinois streets and bordered by a portion of railroad tracks owned by CSX. The area is rife with litter from illegal dumping, ranging from paper scraps to large items like tires and couches.
He says recently he’s been “pretty passive” regarding the garbage, but after seeing city councilor Kate Toomey post a thank you note to CSX via Twitter for their donation to Park Spirit and Concerts at Elm Park, he wondered why the multi-billion dollar company wasn’t doing more to keep their property clean.
“That’s a drop in the bucket,” says Foisy, of the company’s donations.
So he after he got home on Tuesday he went out and took pictures of the tires, couches (some of which he says have been there for two years) and other assorted illegally dumped items. Then he took to Twitter (under the name 4rilla), using the @ symbol to get Toomey’s (and maybe CSX’s) attention.
He even threw in the “$” in front of CSX a couple times too, knowing that many interested in stocks/finance search companies on Twitter with their stock name and a dollar sign in front. “Just to give a double whammy,” Foisy says.
It certainly got Toomey’s attention, and she responded back to him over Twitter.
Meanwhile, another Worcester blogger, Dee Wells, picked up on the open exchanges between Foisy and Toomey, and wrote about it on his blog.
“It’s great that (Foisy) posted those pictures,” Toomey said yesterday, adding that she would contact CSX and tell them about the trash.
Apparently, she did, relaying the information on Twitter and Facebook:
On his own blog, Foisy has some questions about how the money was spent, and posts more pictures of the garbage.
Foisy’s accounts of CSX’s clean ups leave little to be inspired. “I would say they sort of clustered some trash into piles, and never picked it up. That’s the most progress I’ve seen.”
He’s tried to do clean ups himself, but says there’s no access to the train tracks. To help with the blight, he had some Shephard Fairey-connected graffiti artists (of this fame) do some mural work on the wall near his condo. The wall on the other side of the CSX tracks that he can’t reach is covered with Kilby Street gang spray paint.
“Maybe with (CSX) having a vested interest in town rattling some cages will get a response,” Foisy says.
In the short term, probably not much will change because of the back and forth between Foisy and Toomey. But as Wells says on his blog, at least it was out in the open. These open dialogues show that people are paying attention, are engaged enough to document day-to-day issues and mad enough to bring it up to those in charge. (Now if only we could have more than a handful of city officials who use Facebook and Twitter for constituent services.)