Ambitious vision

THE BALTIMORE EVENING SUN

Baltimore may be financially strapped, but surely when it comes to ambitious plans for its future, there's no shortage of vision. On Tuesday a mayoral task force unveiled a detailed strategic plan for downtown development over 20 years that, if followed, could affect everyone who lives, works or shops there.

Entitled "The Renaissance Continues: A 20-year Strategy for Downtown Baltimore," the report contains dozens of recommendations, including changing Charles Street back to two-way traffic, shutting down "The Block" adult entertainment zone, moving the Trailways bus terminal and demolishing the elevated portions of the JFX to create a new east-side development district. Its authors also propose building a 3,000-seat performing arts center, a maritime museum, a new downtown school and a terminal for high-speed trains connecting Baltimore and Washington.

Ambitious projects all, but many of them are eminently feasible given the right support from City Hall. Coming on the heels of a Greater Baltimore Committee study earlier this year that envisioned making Baltimore an international center for life sciences research and development, the latest proposals lay the groundwork for the physical transformation Baltimore must undergo in order to prosper in the 21st century.

Yet we must remember that for any of this to succeed, there

must be a renaissance in the city's human infrastructure as well -- and in particular reform of its public schools, on which the city must depend to provide tomorrow's educated workers and consumers. Failing that, no matter how many plans are advanced, the bright future envisioned will remain just a happy dream.

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