Patricia Polastri may have a PhD in technology management from Indiana State University, but the Texas A&M Kingsville professor also has a tendency towards theater. The Corpus Christi resident, who has displayed a tendency to make her objections to city policy known in dramatic ways, outdid herself on Tuesday night by dressing as a cockroach to protest the city’s planting of palm trees along a stretch of Ocean Drive.
According to Polastri, the city has overplanted the trees near the city’s bayfront Cole Park and failed to maintain them, which can lead to pest contamination—from rats, mice, and (of course) cockroaches. As the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports, Polastri has followed the issue for some time—at the city council meeting in June, she brought a plastic bag of dead roaches to try to get her point across. “I lived there when we only had three palms in that section of Ocean Drive; now we have 35,” she said. “In five blocks, we have 156 palms alone. The city is not going to take care of that.”
In a June op-ed for the Caller-Times, Polastri argued that, while the city should nurture some palm trees along Ocean Drive, there are already too many planted there. She reiterated that the pest problem is her main focus but added that the city doesn’t have enough funding to maintain the property, suggesting that the maintenance schedule released by the Parks & Recreation department is unlikely to be observed, which would lead to overgrowth. At the city council meeting on July 17, she raised yet another objection, saying that the abundance of palm trees were “becoming a jungle” and restricting visibility of people crossing the street, which could lead to people being struck and killed by cars. According to the Caller-Times, residents also complained that the palms block the views of the bay that many had enjoyed from their homes—which might be one reason why pests, overgrowth, and pedestrian safety have all become areas of immediate concern to homeowners.
When Polastri’s theatrical approach to raising awareness demonstrates admirable skill at crafting—her costume, which appears to be at least partly homemade, could be painted green and make its way into a community theater production of James and the Giant Peach—city officials seem to suspect that her passion for the cause doesn’t represent the views of a majority of her neighbors.
“A lot of residents that do live in and around that area, and a majority of the people that reached out to me, are in favor of the landscaping,” city councilmember Ben Molina told the Caller-Times. “That’s why I didn’t push further to have the city address the landscaping issue there. Because for the most part, a lot of the residents were in favor of the landscaping.” At least, those who didn’t dress up as a giant cockroach.