Belvedere Square needs supermarket, drugstore to thrive
Regarding the editorial "Belvedere Square disaster" (July 5), it is important to note that both Mount Washington Mills and York Road Plaza have supermarket anchors.
James Ward's proposed change in Belvedere Square included a modern supermarket and drugstore. The neighborhood association's own consultant presented a plan including a supermarket and drugstore in January.
It seems to me that the reason behind the "disaster" is the city's procrastination or refusal to approve a plan that would have allowed a supermarket and modern drug store.
Benedict J. Frederick Jr.
The writer is a member of The Counselors of Real Estate and is past president of Frederick Realty Inc.
Regarding the July 5 Belvedere Square editorial, I cannot thank you enough for disclosing the real problems that have beset my neighborhood.
I have owned my home directly behind Belvedere Square for 20 years. This is a close-knit, multiracial neighborhood of longtime homeowners who want to live in the city. I enjoyed the older retail center that preceded Belvedere Square (Hochschild Kohn, Hess Shoes, Pop's Toys) and greatly enjoyed the heyday of Belvedere Square itself.
We had our problems with the square. One could never find a place to park because of the throngs of urban shoppers flocking there. There was the constant danger of running into dozens of friends and neighbors, thus making it impossible to just run in and out; one just had to stay and socialize. And there were never enough evenings of live jazz performances that we could hear from our front porches.
But we made do with the crowds, and the socializing and the convenience of an urban market that met almost all of our needs until the merchants starting leaving one by one. Their consistent complaint to the neighborhood was bad management by the owner.
For the past six years, I have watched my neighborhood suffer. We have no convenient shopping, our property values have plummeted, houses have sat empty for years, valuable neighbors have moved out and new people are simply not interested in buying into an area with a dark, empty retail area that dominates the community. Crime has risen and the security guards who worked at the square have now been let go.
"There is a two-word explanation -- James Ward," your editorial stated. It is grossly unfair that, despite the strong and constant efforts of our Belvedere Improvement Association, this one man has wielded such power over a beautiful, stable city neighborhood.
We are still here, we have not given up on the city, and we know that this area can be successfully revitalized. We live in the city, we want to live in the city (not in the middle of a suburban big-box retail area). Do you hear us, Mayor O'Malley?
Mark K. Skeen
Op-ed advertising breaks down walls
I am dismayed that you include an advertisement on your Opinion
Commentary page. Once more, the line between editorial integrity and profit concerns becomes thinner and thinner.
Article on Lazarus revealed poet's life
Isaac Rehert wrote an excellent and patriotic article for the Fourth of July entitled "A poet's gift personifies liberty."
I had read some poetry of Emma Lazarus from "The New Colossus" but questions and gaps remained about her life. Mr. Rehert's essay supplied the answers and filled in details in a clear, concise and comprehensive way. His writing offers great reading for any time.
Thank you for publishing it with her photograph and the Statue of Liberty which she referred to as "The Colossus."
Blanche Cohen Sachs
Pedestrians-only mall is failure for West Side
I am somewhat surprised at Leon Bridges' response to an artist's rendering of the proposed Howard Street project ("Glitzy design for west side belongs in the suburbs," letter, July 2).
I have long admired and respected Mr. Bridges' accomplishments. His apparent inability to distinguish between an artist's highly conceptual rendering of a proposed project, as identified by Ed Gunts ("Keeping it real," June 18), and an architect's studied schematic design of a real project, is somewhat puzzling given his many years in the profession.
Design Collective has a solid reputation for sensitive contextual design and would expect to approach the Howard Street project similarly as programming is complete and actual architectural design work begins. With respect to Mr. Bridges' objection to opening up Lexington Mall to vehicular traffic, I must disagree.
Converting Lexington Mall into an active urban street will only help the retailers and provide additional "eyes on the street" beyond retail hours.
State Street in Chicago, like many pedestrian malls throughout the United States, including Lexington Mall, was a failure. Fortunately, Chicago had the foresight to convert State Street back into an active urban street. The results have been remarkable.
Today, State Street, which once had significant upper-floor vacancy, deteriorated historic buildings and boarded-up storefronts, now boasts of impressive restoration and adaptive reuse projects, an infusion of residential and re-energized street-level retail and sidewalk activity.
Why would that be so bad for Lexington Street and the west side?
Design Collective's action plan for the West Side has generated an unprecedented volume of private sector economic development interest -- a confirmation of the area's potential and cause for responsive action.
We are working for Baltimore Development Corp. to develop a Vision Master Plan and Urban Design Guidelines based upon our extensive interviews with important stakeholders, such as merchants, preservationists and city planning, design and development agencies. The prosperity of a city can be defined as a healthy synthesis among physical planning principles, social considerations and economic health. Look around Baltimore's west side and ask yourself "Is this physical, social and economic prosperity?"
Study the history of the city and the area and study the history of many other great American cities to discover two vitally important facts: Baltimore's problems are solvable and, while to change everything would not be good, some change is necessary.
The writer is a principal of Design Collective Inc.
An arresting question for criminologists
If crime is down, then arrests should also be down. Why, then, do we need to build more prisons?
E. David Silverberg
Angelos' greed harms his community projects
How can Peter Angelos justify charging the state of Maryland $30,000 an hour when he paid as little as $21 an hour for legal work in the tobacco suit?
Because Mr. Angelos refuses to apply to the tobacco industry for payment of his legal fees, like every other lawyer in the country has done, he is forcing Maryland taxpayers to pay his outrageous legal bill.
This is yet another example of ridiculous contingency fee contracts that do nothing but line the pockets of personal injury lawyers like Mr. Angelos.
Mr. Angelos has shown that he is committed to improving the Baltimore community with numerous development projects. He needs to be reminded that his greedy demands to the state will only hurt the communities in which he has invested.
The writer is chairman of Western Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.