Parksley food truck owner: ‘I am being persecuted by the town’

EASTERN SHORE POST/TED SHOCKLEY Clemen Bastien, right, and her husband, Theslet Benoir, operate the Haitian food truck that prompted the Parksley Town Council to ban mobile food units from the town except for special events.

BY CLEMEN BASTIEN, Guest columnist —

My husband, Theslet, and I are U.S. citizens. We have four children born and raised in Parksley. I appreciate everyone who supports our businesses, the market and food truck located at 24312 Bennett St., Parksley. Both are licensed by the State of Virginia, USDA, Accomack County, and the town of Parksley.

The biggest problem is that the town of Parksley took pictures of my truck and accused me of dropping oil on the street, which is not the case. The town gave me a citation for $2,500 to pay as a fine. What the town said was not true.

The town of Parksley discovered that it was a pipe that had burst underground.

Without warning me, the town dug in front of the business with a tractor. The town left the tractor in front of my business so people couldn’t park when they came to the store.

This impacted my business — I didn’t do the business that I wanted to do, and I lost a lot of food from the market. A lot of my food was spoiled, so I had to trash it.

What is worse, the mayor pretended that he wanted to help, but he just wanted to close my business. Why?

On June 16, 2023, the town sent someone to cut off the pipe from my food truck, saying that the water in the truck goes to the septic tank on the street. That’s not true; when the dirty water tank in the truck is full, a company takes the water away for me.

The next day I had a product delivered to me. The town did not want the truck driver to deliver the product in front of the market. Town council member Henry Nicholson insulted the truck driver.

When I showed up, I told the driver that he must stop there to deliver the goods to me. Nicholson insulted me. The police came. Nicholson told the police that I did not have a license for my business. I gave all my licenses to the police.

What he did next, in front of the police, was take a car that was in a nearby garage and park the car in front of my business’ door. The police had to call someone else to remove the car in front of my business.

The reason I am writing today is because my business continues to suffer. I feel that I am being persecuted by the town.

I clean my yard. I put garbage cans outside for the town to pick up. The town does not pick up the trash.

I have my car parked at my house, and the town asked me to remove it. I pay taxes. The town of Parksley passed an ordinance to have no permanent food trucks in Parksley.

In my opinion, all Haitians should sell their houses and leave Parksley. Nobody should buy a house in Parksley. I don’t feel safe, and I’m also scared for my children’s safety in Parksley.

I am tired of this. I am so depressed right now. This has all been a huge headache. I cannot take it anymore.
Thanks to Tyson Foods Inc., Perdue Farms Inc., and everyone who has supported us thus far.

Editor’s note: Henry Nicholson of the Parksley Town Council said the town left the tractor, which is a backhoe, and traffic cones surrounding it, as a precaution to keep people safe from the hole where the pipe burst. Nicholson said the Virginia Department of Transportation said the cones were not correctly spaced and the correct spacing eliminated nearby street parking. He said the food truck was illegally hooked to the sewer system and the pipe was cut to prevent damage to the system and possible violations. Nicholson said the tractor-trailer truck was parked for a long period of time on the sidewalk and he asked the driver to move it, but the driver cursed at Nicholson. Nicholson said the town does not have its own trash collection and a waste-disposal business collects town trash. Nicholson said, “I’ve got no reason to shut down their business.”

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