Future of Black Marsh State Park
Editor: I would like to state the aims of the Coalition to Preserve Black Marsh as clearly as possible and correct some current misconceptions about our objectives and the status of the state park.
The fundamental aims of the coalition are to:
Increase the size of the protected natural area by adding the 250-acre Shallow Creek peninsula to the 550-acre tract already designated as a natural heritage area.
Persuade DNR to provide facilities more appropriate for this kind of park and locate them away from the coastal zone, where they do not fragment the extended natural area the coalition is proposing and degrade wildlife habitat.
Provide an opportunity at Black Marsh for people to enjoy wildlife, unspoiled natural scenery, archaeological sites and the rich historical background of the area.
Also provide an opportunity for school children to learn about our natural heritage and local history.
The DNR plan, we feel, would degrade and consume the resource it exploits.
In proposing the extension of natural-area protection to the 250-acre Shallow Creek peninsula the coalition is looking toward the future. If the peninsula is allowed to fully restore itself through reforestation, the natural area of the park would then become a nearly 3/4 -mile-wide band of forest and marsh protected by four miles of water boundaries.
Although it is true that the peninsula in its current condition contains a number of cleared fields, it nonetheless includes productive heron marshes and roosts on the Shallow Creek side, forested coastline for foraging eagles on the bay side and woods supporting hawks and other bird species.
The 550 acres including the principal marsh and the forest buffers around it have been protected by DNR regulations as a "natural heritage area" for more than three years.
The adequacy of the protection provided by this classification has not been made an issue by the coalition; the threat to the marsh itself has always been seen by us as the detrimental effects of proposed roads, parking lots, car and boat traffic, insect control measures, lighting and noise adjacent to the protected area.
We believe that the combined effect of these factors will eventually degrade the natural heritage area.
Daniel S. Lynch.
The writer is a vice president of the Coalition to Preserve Black Marsh.
Editor: I'm sure that other city residents were as encouraged as I was to read that the mayor is "not turning a blind eye" to the "outrage" of rising violent crime. We should expect no less from a former state's attorney.
Yet there is absolutely no substitute for strengthening the hand of the police on the street and restoring respect for the criminal justice system as a whole. This will never happen until the juvenile justice system and the courts of this city are overhauled and the long-suffering police and law-abiding citizen get the backing they deserve.
With certain, swift and fair punishment of all lawbreakers as the goal, procedures must be streamlined and unnecessary impediments to prosecution removed. If this requires much more intensive use of the courts, fewer juror challenges to defense attorneys and more trials of juveniles as adults for serious crimes, then so be it. Any political leader -- Kurt Schmoke included -- who advocates a credible program to accomplish this goal and who has the courage to seek a consensus to achieve it will have my support and probably that of most of Baltimore's other fed-up citizens as well.
We face a potentially overwhelming challenge at the hands of Baltimore's criminal element which demands immediate action, not business-as-usual Band-aids. It transcends partisan, racial, ethnic, religious or even budgetary considerations and must be met decisively head-on.
Let's hope that all candidates declare war on crime in the months ahead. In the meantime, citizens can help themselves by being the eyes and ears of the police and by cooperating fully with them whenever their help is needed.
Editor: Baltimore was fortunate recently to have the renowned Alvin Ailey dance company at the Mechanic Theatre. It begins a relationship that promises to add significantly to the future of our city's cultural life.
While Baltimoreans are often exposed to claims of "world-class" this and "world-class" that -- sometimes identifying nothing more than the mediocre or mundane -- a true definition can be found in the performances of this talented group. Those privileged to be in the audience saw "world-class" in action, not words.
Stanley C. Gabor.
No News There
Editor: How can one believe that our Congress is serious about budget-cutting when we read continually about such projects as a study which "reveals" that an abused child is likely to suffer from depression and possess less scholastic ability? Is it because our elected representatives are so far removed from such an environment that they cannot envision such an obvious conclusion without spending taxpayers' money?
!Charlotte K. Reynolds.
Editor: Reports in The Sun and the bountiful visual evidence in my neighborhood tell us that 14 percent of all solid waste is now being recycled. That, though short of our eventual goal, is an enormous amount. The city refuse collectors who work the routes where recycling has been implemented obviously have 14 percent less to pick up and can finish their day's work in less time.
Secondly, the city has a dire, chronic shortfall of cash. These two realities suggest a solution to me. Lengthen the trash collection routes by say half of the amount that the volume was reduced. That is if you pick up 14 percent less, make the route 7 percent longer. The city would save a colossal amount of money -- and, in truth, the refuse workers would still have less work to do than before recycling began in Baltimore.
T. Herbert Dimmock.
A Time for Vision and Will
Editor: Rarely in history does there occur a junction of political will and long-range vision. Today, the future of Maryland hangs in the balance between vision and will and short-sighted defeat. Together we, the people of an historic and beautiful state, should join in support of legislation to realize the visionary goals of Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the Maryland 2020 Commission.
The knuckle-dragging trolls of self-interest have already emerged from under the bridge to mug the future of Maryland. Where is it written that self-interest and the right to rape the land should prevail over our cultural heritage, our forests, our farmland and our bay? Together we can develop a broader sense of community, establish sensible development goals and be remembered for this proud accomplishment.
To those who oppose the concept of planning for the common good, I ask you to open your eyes to the reality of the present. Cookie-cutter housing, hot asphalt, bulldozed historic houses and a lifeless Chesapeake lay in the path we have set today. We have the right and the duty to choose a better future.
Local planning alone, compromised by single interests, is not up to the task. Towns and counties hold their mouths open like baby birds awaiting the worms of development. Do these tax-base promises bear fruit? Or do we pay for these drunken flings with the hangovers of costly public services, congestion and a ravaged landscape? Mortgage the present. Get yours. There is no long run in this balance-sheet vocabulary.
As anti-social egoists flee human problems to their three-acre suburban cocoons, Maryland's historic and symbolic heart, the proud City of Baltimore cries out to use its thousands of homes, its streets and sidewalks, the investment of past generations. Preserving our history and our countryside means revitalizing our cities.
This is an historic opportunity for the wise citizens of Maryland to choose a future that ensures our grandchildren a Maryland worth inheriting. There is no more frontier. We must conserve and use our forests, hills and farms wisely. As individuals, the only land guaranteed each of us in the end is a six-by-two plot, but, as a united people, we can live on through our legacy of wise civic decisions.