Black Marsh Park Challenge
Editor: In a time when development along the Chesapeake Bay is rapidly replacing natural coastal ecosystems, Maryland has a unique opportunity to develop a natural park as called for in the regulations passed under the critical area law. That policy is "to encourage the creation of opportunities for interaction between people and natural environments without destroying the fragile components of natural habitats."
This clearly represents the new thinking in developing parks in the critical area where protection of the resource supersedes commercial enterprises that are not compatible with or dependent upon that resource.
There is already an abundance of public parks and areas where people can go for intensive recreation, but there are relatively few places where the public can experience the interface of land and water in its natural state.
Black Marsh State Park in Baltimore County, which is currently undergoing master plan development, represents an opportunity to provide Marylanders with such an experience.
Unfortunately, however, the draft master plan developed by the Department of Natural Resources for Black Marsh represents the old thinking in park planning.
It calls for a costly waterfront park with commercial development in the critical area, including an amphitheater, open air cafe, Edwardian fountain, large pavilion, large group picnicking shelters with play lots and parking lots and boat tie-up facilities, all of which would adversely impact the natural environment and the Chesapeake Bay.
This plan is on the fast track. Companion bills SB 417 and HB 596 are pending before the General Assembly.
These bills would permit the unprotected half of the park to be developed by DNR in any way it chooses without any state environmental controls, free from the normal regulatory review and without public hearings.
Instead of promoting outmoded, environmentally destructive plans, why doesn't DNR scrap its master plan, begin afresh and come up with a visionary plan that would serve as a model natural park for the Chesapeake Bay, one that the governor could really be proud of?
The writer is president of the Maryland Conservation Council.
Editor: One of the main concerns today is a ground war with Iraq. We already know something of the cost of bombing in dollars, devastation, hatred and human lives. We have begun to project the cost of rebuilding Kuwait and Iraq. We are warned about the carnage to be expected from a ground war.
Why not a cease fire with proper safeguards instead? Iran anRussia are making proposals for a cessation of hostilities. I hope that the United States will consider these peace efforts if Iraq withdraws from Kuwait. Maybe the ground war is not inevitable. Troops could return alive and the re-building could begin.
Frances J. Lentz.
Editor: When the decision was made to build a new baseball stadium in Camden Yards, the B & O Warehouse was threatened by demolition. Thankfully, Gov. William Donald Schaefer, the Maryland Stadium Authority, and the Baltimore Orioles were smart enough to save this magnificent building and to incorporate it into an overall scheme for redeveloping the area. The resulting project has already won national acclaim even though it is not yet complete.
Unfortunately, the B & O Warehouse is once again faced with danger. This time from a proposed office addition to its west facade which would house the State Highway Administration. The addition threatens the architectural integrity of the warehouse as well as that of the entire Camden Yards stadium project.
It is extremely poor public policy to allow a state agency to occupy office space that could attract new businesses to the region. Moving the State Highway Administration to Camden Yards would eliminate the project's potential to foster economic development. The State Highway Administration should move its offices to an area that is in need of an economic stimulus but unlikely to receive it from the private sector.
The city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland are on the verge of having a first class stadium complex. The proposed addition jeopardizes the integrity of the entire project. It would be a shame to ruin this beautifully designed complex.
Timothy E. Pula.
Editor: Your editorial stated that Peter Arnett deserves praise for his reporting out of Baghdad -- and you accused Sen. Alan Simpson of McCarthyism for criticizing him.
Please be informed that there are many of us who agree in principle with Senator Simpson. We firmly believe that Peter Arnett is doing our country a disservice.
Peter Arnett would certainly not be retained as a guest in Baghdad, if he were not performing a valuable service for Saddam Hussein.
Editor: Regarding your story about charges of hiring discrimination against Pittcon Industries Inc., let me correct a significant omission.
The alleged discrimination against a deaf job applicant occurred prior to the corporation's filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in 1988. In resolution of the bankruptcy, the assets, trade-marks and the business goodwill of the bankrupt corporation were purchased by the American Metal Forming Corp. Pittcon Industries now operates as a division of that corporation.
I wish to state emphatically that Pittcon follows an absolute policy of equal opportunity in employment and advancement regardless of race, sex, religious belief, ethnic origin or physical abilities.
Francis L. Hunt.
The writer is chief executive officer of Pittcon Industries.
A Cry for Help
Editor: I am the financial secretary of a small Baltimore City family business, Weitzel Brothers Inc. We have been members of the Century Club of Baltimore since 1972. That is to say we have been in business for 118 years.
This may be our last year in business and I am heartsick.
This year our state and city assessment has been doubled. This new assessment will be phased in over the next three years. I have attended two appeal hearings. We have lost both hearings, so there will be no relief.
We have also been hurt by the city with increased taxation on our main source of income, our parking garage. They have raised the city parking tax from $4 a month in 1988 to $11 a month in 1990. I have lost quite a few customers.
The city has also built two parking lots across the street from us within the last few years. I wonder if the city is charging a similar tax.
When I talked to one of our district representatives in the City Council, he was very unsympathetic. He informed me it was the law and could not be changed. He offered no advice as to how I might receive some relief. Perhaps someone might offer us some help in finding a solution to our problems.
Our other source of income, the service station, must be upgraded to meet the new federal environmental laws. Is there any way a small business can fight federal, state and city laws and remain in business in Baltimore?
I am searching for relief. We want to survive. We are proud of our name and reputation and our years of honest and dependable service.
Perhaps the city and state would prefer another empty building. It is possible. We need some relief. Right now the future looks a bit dim.