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Parking shortage? Count the spaces available downtownIt's...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Parking shortage? Count the spaces available downtown

It's hard to believe Baltimore has a parking garage problem. If you think of all the new high-rise garages that have been built downtown in the past 10 to 20 years and of all the law firms, headquarter office companies, professional offices, department stores and even dime stores that have left over the same period, one wonders why parking is such an issue.

There are 24,000 parking spaces downtown. Mercy Hospital has two high-rise garages on Calvert Street, one as high as the Orleans Street viaduct. Just up the street is The Baltimore Sun's block-long garage.

The city just finished an eight-level garage for Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown that takes up an entire square city block and for which historic structures were sacrificed. That garage is in addition to the six levels of parking already inside the Alex. Brown Building.

Saint Paul Plaza at Lexington Street has 10 levels of parking, with offices on top and another garage planned next to it behind the Masonic Temple on Charles Street.

Harbor Park has four to five levels of parking on top of its movie theaters. Landmark Parking's half-square block at 414 Water St. and South Gay Street garage has nine levels, part of which extends out over the sidewalk. Up the street is the garage atop and around the Legal Aid Society.

Lexington Market has a relatively new high-rise garage next to its East Market and plans to add four levels on top of its West Market Garage. Another multi-level garage forms the base of the Redwood Tower Apartments on South Paca Street. University of Maryland built a four-level underground garage in front of University Hospital with three other garages on the downtown campus.

All of this is in addition to the high-rise, surface and underground garages that ring the Inner Harbor.

None of these structures existed 10 to 20 years ago. Active commercial buildings stood on their sites. More people worked and shopped downtown. Today, we don't have a parking problem in downtown Baltimore as much as safety and other issues with regard to public transit use.

Harvey Schwartz, Baltimore

Riverdale enforcement predated news articles

I am writing to clarify a point made in your June 20 article "Ex-apartment's owner agrees to $500,000 fine."

The article concerned a $500,000 payment by Richard Schlesinger, owner of the former Riverdale Village Apartments, to resolve charges that he violated the equity-skimming provisions of the National Housing Act by failing to adequately maintain the apartments, which were subject to a federally insured mortgage, and by misusing the property's income.

That article stated that the federal and county investigations began in September 1997 after a series of articles in The Sun. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had already taken a series of enforcement actions well before then.

In May 1995, HUD issued reports of physical and management reviews which found the condition and management of the property to be "Unsatisfactory."

In October 1995, HUD requested that the inspector general perform an audit of the property to identify any financial irregularities.

These audits started the chain of events that led to the recent $500,000 settlement.

In early 1996, HUD initiated an enforcement process that resulted in the owner being issued a limited denial of participation in further HUD programs and his ultimate debarment from participation in any of HUD's programs.

HUD referred the case to the U.S. attorney for possible action. As a result of this referral, the U.S. attorney filed a civil complaint against the owner. This complaint was settled by the recently announced $500,000 payment by the owner.

Harold D. Young, Baltimore

The writer is Maryland state coordinator for HUD.

Morgan faces future of separate, unequal

In explaining the impact that past academic program duplication had on Morgan State University, Mike Bowler (June 21) wrote, "The Morgan president looks at his school through the lens of modern history."

At the ripe old age of 80, I have been around long enough to give perspective to the current struggle Morgan is enduring. It dates back to the Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka decision of 1954, providing for the integration of public elementary and secondary schools.

In complying with the Brown decision, the pattern in most Southern states was to move black students to white schools in white neighborhoods. Black schools previously located in black neighborhoods were converted into either technical and vocational schools or office complexes for local government agencies.

This model of integration allowed the states to comply with the Brown decision without having to send white children to black schools in black neighborhoods.

Baltimore City fathers recognized that it was only a matter of time before public colleges and universities would be required to integrate as well, and they sought to replicate the model used in elementary and secondary education.

They immediately called for the development of a university campus to serve Baltimore even though Morgan State University already existed in Baltimore. Interestingly enough, that new city campus was established in 1966 in Catonsville and is now known as University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

It was hoped then as it is now that Morgan would simply fade away and, for a brief period during the late 1970s and early 1980s, it looked as if that would come true.

Not only was the new school built in Catonsville but Morgan's problems were compounded by the expansion of Towson University and the incorporation of a private institution, the University of Baltimore, into the public system of higher education.

But a strange thing has happened over the past 15 or 16 years. Morgan State University has turned completely around. It has programs that are nationally recognized and is, perhaps, the state's greatest asset in promoting diversity in higher education and the Maryland work force.

It graduates the largest number of African-Americans at the baccalaureate degree level of any institution in Maryland. It also graduates more African-Americans in the sciences and engineering than any other college in Maryland. Yet the establishment continues to hold on to its dream to limit, if not close, Morgan and to developing UMBC as its replacement.

To better understand why the battle against Morgan is being waged so fiercely, consider the tremendous influence that a major public university can have on a city.

It has an enormous influence on the government and politics of that city as well as the composition of its population, the nature of its schools and the quality of life in its community. Most cities would welcome that kind of influence.

The problem in Baltimore is that Morgan is historically black, and the city is now predominantly black in population. It is thought that to embrace Morgan would be to have the city unduly influenced by African-Americans.

Morgan can expect the struggle to intensify as the color of the city and the state gets darker.

Lemuel A. Lewie Jr., Baltimore

Save taxpayer money from Black & Decker

It's high time for our elected officials to start saying no to wealthy corporations' demands for incentives and tax breaks under the threat of moving out of the area.

Now it's Black & Decker Corp. that is looking for handouts from the taxpayers to build a new office center. ("Toolmaker seeking help with growth," July 7) A company with $4.5 billion in revenues doesn't need my hard-earned dollars to survive.

If Black & Decker should move, so be it. The area lived through the same company closing the Hampstead manufacturing facility, throwing about 2,000 people out of work, and we'll carry on if they take their offices elsewhere.

Wayne Croft, Parkton

Abuse victims should recognize price paid

Kudos to the reporters who interviewed Joseph Palczynski's victimized girlfriends, especially Linell Smith for her creative and compelling writing of the piece and also to the editors for realizing the importance of focusing upon this important social issue ("Breaking point," July 3).

One hopes that other victimized women might recognize the abusive pattern and realize that the abuser says one thing and acts out another. May these women see that they are paying a price with their spirit for the attention and so-called love with the chance of paying the ultimate price of having their lives taken, not just their will.

May God grant them the grace and confidence needed to use one of the phone numbers given in the article and run, not walk, to the nearest shelter.

Betty L. Schien, Parkville

United Nations, U.S. must avert genocide

I read, with a sense of hope, that the United Nations, the United States and others were scathingly indicted for failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda five years ago ("Nations denounced for failure to avert genocide in Rwanda," July 8).

As I read the newspaper accounts of the massacres and vividly saw the gory details on television, I wondered why no one was taking action to prevent this type of ethnic cleansing. I felt sad for mankind and angry at my government and the world government for not trying to prevent another holocaust.

My thoughts went back to World War II, when the government of the United States and others had proof of the Nazi atrocities and remained as silent as it did in Rwanda in 1994.

I believe that the United Nations can and should prevent this type of genocide. I believe the United Nations must provide a swift and overpowering force to prevent this from happening in the future.

If we cannot learn the lessons of the Nazis, the Hutus and the ethnic cleansings in Yugoslavia, history will surely repeat itself time and again.

Phillip Paul Weiner, Baltimore

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