On May 27, the Sun Journal reported on concerns raised by Stan Pelletier’s group about problems that might arise if Phyllis St. Laurent’s housing project, containing 29 four-bedroom subsidized units, is built on her land.

The potential problems seem real; dealing fairly with both those concerns and St. Laurent’s rights is vital.

In his book “Toward A New Ethic of Survival: The Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle,” Garrett Harding retold “The Tragedy of the Common,” describing such issues.

In the story, each head-of-family grazed one cow on the common meadow, using equal shares of a public good, “the common,” for private use and profit. One head-of-family added a second cow. So did another. Soon everyone else did the same. Before long, the overgrazed common could support no cows at all and desire for profit enjoyed individually while its costs are borne by everyone overwhelmed the resources of the common. It became useless for anyone to use or enjoy.

In the local case, the profit from the project goes to an individual — Ms. St. Laurent. Pelletier’s group raises concerns about the costs to be borne in common by all Lewiston taxpayers: more students for the schools and a significant parking problem. He might also have added that, by itself, increasing population density increases the need for community services of all sorts.

More conversation about the competing interests of individual profit and cost to the community of the total impact of this project appears to be needed.

Silver Moore-Leamon, Auburn


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