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Letter To The Editor: It’s Not About The Weeds, Ms. Austin

on September 26, 2017 - 8:05am
Los Alamos
Like Michelle Austin (link), I grew up in a rural New York State community. In  my case, it was in the sixties.
Like Michelle, we grew up where there  were no fences and our acre and a half lot merged with all the other lots on the street. That made for great pickup softball and football games as we could overrun several lots with outfields and goalposts. 
People had a lot of tolerance for each other's idiosyncrasies. The only time I could recall my stepdad admonishing a neighbor's kid was when the kid was shooting at birds with a 22 rimfire and my dad, a life NRA member, told him that those bullets could carry for a mile.
I am sympathetic to Ms. Austin's concerns about government overreach into people's private lives but we do have to draw some boundaries for the public good. The recent Environmental Sustainability Board suggestion that we fine people and put them on 5 year probation for grevious garbage cart crime is an example of overreach.
But some things need to be addressed for the public good. We have endured two homes in our neighborhood that have been falling into disrepair. One has been abandoned for over a decade and is not only a firetrap but could possibly be harboring rodents. The other, which has now been renovated, was not lived in for a decade.
On one occurrence, my wife and her friend, while walking our dogs, saw one door opened and went to investigate. We saw that it was actually a break in and promptly called the police. Fortunately, no one accosted our loved ones on that occasion but I did wonder what would have happened if some nefarious crew had decided to set up a meth lab or similar in that location.
So there are limits to our autonomy because we are not simply individuals but members of a community. Finding a balance and addressing issues in a civil and constructive manner are the critical questions here.