Taking stock of good and bad surprises, with kudos to city DOT (Hudson's Corner)

Life is full of surprises. They make life interesting. The past two weeks have been filled with a mix of good and bad surprises.

On the bright side, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation has been a model of good communication, responsive action and careful work on the recurbing and repaving of Ridgewood Road. Well in advance of beginning the project, the DOT left residents written notices of the upcoming work.

The phone number on that paper changed by the time I called with questions, but the person who answered was helpful. He transferred me to the right person, who said that having our tree company and a crane on site during construction would be no problem. Road crews, in fact, finished our curb work early, so the tree trucks could stay all day. 

When more concerns were raised by neighbors, the onsite city inspector handled every question cordially and promptly by email and in person. His vigilance at supervising the work itself has assured a quality job.

Another pleasant surprise came at the sellout 125th gala celebration of the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory. The late Sidney Silber grew up near Druid Hill Park and led the expansion of his family's legendary Baltimore bakery before launching a successful career in commercial real estate. Inspired by his early love of the park, its gardens and trees, he and his wife, Jean, created, over 50 years, one of the finest gardens in Maryland.

At the gala, his family announced that Silber's lifelong friend, Willard Hackerman, president and CEO of the construction company Whiting-Turner, was making a $100,000 memorial contribution to benefit the conservatory. 

Closer to home and on a smaller scale, someone left a surprise pumpkin at our door and someone else surprised us with a box of apples, almonds, fresh raisin bread, a gigantic cookie and a peanut butter cup. Good thing I sill can work off those goodies in the still-open, heated pool at Meadowbrook.

Topping the list of not-so-good surprises is the government shutdown. Congress continues to get paid, while millions of its constituents don't. My husband thinks American citizens should be allowed to vote on a constitutional amendment prohibiting a shutdown.

I know nothing about constitutional law, but it is unimaginable that its writers envisioned anything like the current impasse. It creates not only economic hardship, but also national security risks.

A surprise in the neighborhood was learning that the proposed new Baltimore City comprehensive zoning rewrite would not restrict height limitations in neighborhood commercial districts like those on Cold Spring Lane near Alonso's, at the Roland Avenue shopping center near Deepdene Road, or on Lawndale Road at Wyndhurst Avenue.

City Councilwomen Mary Pat Clarke and Sharon Green Middleton are working with the Roland Park Civic League to add height and density restrictions to the new C-1VC zoning designation. The smaller scale of residential neighborhoods with village centers should be protected in Roland Park and citywide.

Another piece of bad news was the aggressive entrance by a man described as in his 30s into the unlocked kitchen of nearby new residents. The owners repeatedly told him to leave. He finally did, and they called the police.

Up the street a few days later, a woman walking her two large dogs at 5:30 a.m. spotted two men breaking into a neighbor's car. She threatened them by saying she would let the German shepherd off its leash. The young men apologized, dropped everything and ran. The woman quickly called 911 and gave a detailed description of the men. Police called 10 minutes later and asked if they could pick her up and take her to another location, where they had stopped two men fitting her description.

Action like this woman's helps fight crime in Baltimore. The police cannot do their job if citizens do not call 911. Taking proactive measures may also reduce the frequency of bad neighborhood surprises.


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