Liberty Ship project preserves city's past, enhances...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Liberty Ship project preserves city's past, enhances the harbor

The Sun's editorial ("Success may kill unique Inner Harbor," Nov. 19) makes a valid point about exercising control over Baltimore's waterfront, but the future home of Liberty Ship John W. Brown is not a good example of unseemly growth.

Baltimore is a historic port, seeking to celebrate its rich maritime heritage. Now, a nonprofit group, Project Liberty Ship, not only wants to contribute to that heritage, but help transform an eyesore in the industrial area of Key Highway.

In doing this, they plan to permanently relocate the last operating troopship of World War II to our harbor.

The Brown was built in 1942 at the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard, not far from the Key Highway property. Yet some apparently think hosting a ship of the Brown's pedigree is not in keeping with the city's new image as a tourist mecca.

Without actual artifacts of our maritime past, the Inner Harbor is little more than a glitzy tourist trap, with none of Baltimore's history.

Baltimore goes all out to welcome any number of foreign vessels to come and "block the view" up at Harborplace.

The property in question is in an industrial area, right next to a thriving shipyard. It is difficult to understand why an illustrious ship -- one of Baltimore's own -- would be undesirable in such a location.

We think the Brown will be a positive addition to Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Joan Burke

Baltimore

The writer is a member of Project Liberty Ship.

Development will feature modern pier, new exhibits

The development of the Key Highway property between the Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI) and the General Ship repair yard, including the waterfront, has been in the planning stage for well over a year ("An industrious project," Nov. 10).

The property is owned by Project Liberty Ship Inc., which owns and operates the historic World War II Liberty Ship John W. Brown and the BMI, which plans to install new exhibits ashore and replace a rotting pier and broken mooring piles with a new, modern pier that will extend about 200 feet beyond the existing pier.

This site will give the historic vessel a permanent home and enable it to be open to the public in a more suitable area. Adjacent property owners have voiced no objection, since the proposal would clean up the present unsightly waterfront.

Those who complain that their harbor view will be blocked (partially) are in an industrial area that isn't open to the general public for viewing of the harbor.

We hope this waterfront development, funded entirely by tax-free donations, will gain support, so that generations to come can learn of the greatest shipbuilding program in history, in which Baltimore played such an important role.

Paul J. Esbensen

Baltimore

The writer is president of Project Liberty Ship Inc.

City support should extend beyond the Inner Harbor

The Sun reported that an Inner Harbor property owner, HarborView Corp., is about to have a portion of its land bought back by the city and restored at taxpayer expense ("Promenade at Inner Harbor stirs a debate over funding," Nov. 14).

I recently received notice from the city that a public sidewalk abutting my property, which I do not own, is being restored at my expense. The city sent me a copy of the City Code ordinance that requires me to fix its property.

But George G. Balog, director of the city's Department of Public Works, tells the taxpayers that HarborView's contractual agreement with the city was "conceptual" and that, "It's difficult to carve all those rules in stone."

The city had no such trouble carving my legal obligations in stone.

Am I resentful? Of course. Over the years, as the city has poured millions into the Inner Harbor, neighborhoods such as Pen Lucy -- my home for 31 years -- have been marginalized.

Many neighborhoods could use a few million dollars for revitalization -- and the benefits should not be restricted to the Inner Harbor.

In the last municipal election, a groundswell for change cut across racial and economic lines. It should cut across geographic boundaries as well.

Larry E. Webb

Baltimore

Mayor's concern over killings comes much too late

We live in the fourth deadliest per capita city in the nation and, after 12 years as mayor, the only consolation Kurt L. Schmoke can provide is that much of the violence is confined to drug areas ("City streets get mean again," Nov. 19).

Unfortunately, the drug areas are in some of the city's most vulnerable and densely populated neighborhoods.

For 12 years, Mr. Schmoke has been either unable or unwilling to deal with Baltimore's outrageously high homicide rate. With only weeks left in office, he has the audacity to say, "It's an issue that can't be ignored."

John Huppert

Baltimore

Dispersal of Haussner's art is an enormous loss

Since I got word that Haussner's Restaurant was closing, I have skimmed the paper to read the latest article about its closing. With each one, an old memory would come to mind -- having crumpets and tea with my grandmother, or cold lemonade in the summer, or taking my friends to dinner and then giving them the tour of the museum upstairs afterward.

The artwork that sat at the side or foot of my dinner table was, to me, priceless.

I cannot comprehend how a stranger halfway around the world can just purchase it, without recognizing its historical significance to the city and the people who dealt with the restaurant ("Auction brings in more than predicted," Nov. 4).

Those strangers purchased what was to them an original Renoir painting, for example, not realizing that what they were buying was other people's memories.

I just cannot express what a loss I believe it is that the art that one restaurant held is now scattered all over the world.

Sarah E. Dihmes

Baltimore

Dr. Asper devoted himself to patient care, education

Jacques Kelly's obituary of Dr. Sam Asper brought back memories ("Dr. Samuel P. Asper, 83, directed hospital in Lebanon," Nov. 13).

I first knew Dr. Asper as a caring and superb physician and teacher during an internship in 1961. But as Dr. Victor McKusick noted in the obituary, it was Dr. Asper's stint at the American University Hospital in Beirut that defined him.

No theoretical idealist, he abandoned a comfortable position to help develop an outstanding center for patient care, education and research. When I asked him years later why he stuck it out in the midst of the devastation, he quietly said, "I had to, Peter. They were counting on me."

His greatest regret was seeing the institution he loved crumble. After that, he worked to improve foreign medical graduate training in the United States.

A few months ago, I saw him for the last time. He was hunched over, walking slowly toward the hospital for an eye appointment. As I caught up with him and we walked arm in arm, he apologized for slowing me down.

On reaching the hospital, I asked that he let me wheel him upstairs. Arriving at the desk, he gave his name without the "Doctor" and was asked to sign in.

Afraid that the clerks might not know who this frail man was, I noted that he had run the place once and that he was as great as any of those prestigious doctors whose names dot the institution.

Dr. Peter E. Dans

Cockeysville

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