LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

MARC station itself needs renovation

The West Baltimore MARC station provides an exciting opportunity for transit-oriented development that can enhance surrounding communities, especially given the increased traffic to be drawn to Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground as a result of the new jobs created by the base realignment and closure process ("Revival hope rides on MARC rail stop," April 23).

Missing from The Sun's article on the station, however, was any mention of the need to improve the station itself.

The present station, in addition to having a "rickety wooden platform," is inaccessible to the disabled and requires slow, single-door loading for everyone else.

Because the station is short and on a curved section of track, little improvement is likely at the current site.

If the station were moved a few hundred feet south to a location behind Bentalou Elementary School, an adequate station could be built, complete with proper platforms and other amenities.

This would minimize interference with Amtrak through-traffic, expedite boarding and better serve the disabled.

Such a station relocation must be considered in any community development effort.

Greg Hinchliffe

Baltimore

People power put end to expressway

Sumathi Reddy's otherwise excellent article on the West Baltimore MARC station contained an interesting attempt at revisionist history ("Revival hope rides on MARC rail stop," April 23).

The "road to nowhere" is by no means a testament to what the article called "political opposition from wealthier communities."

Rather, it is a testament to the power of a committed group of citizens, this writer among them, who did the research, took the photographs, prepared the cases and attended the hearings related to the plan that would have destroyed parts of West Baltimore and one its jewels, Leakin Park, for the sake of cutting the travel time from the port and downtown offices to points west.

Barbara A. Mikulski, Parren J. Mitchell and George and Carolyn Tyson were some of the founders of the Movement Against Destruction (MAD). And they, along with the Volunteers Opposing the Leakin Park Expressway and the Baltimore chapter of the Sierra Club, were instrumental in stopping, for the first time in the nation, an Interstate highway project.

Joyce Smith's work in Southwest Baltimore is a continuation of a proud tradition of Baltimoreans using every means at their disposal to raise community awareness about the need to preserve, protect and empower city neighborhoods.

George Mattingly

Timonium

The writer was a member of Volunteers Opposing the Leakin Park Expressway.

Ugly parking garage besmirches basilica

I came in to Baltimore to see what I thought would be a nice view of the Basilica of the Assumption from Charles Street after the removal of the Rochambeau. What a shock.

The apartment building is gone, but all one can now see is a bare and ugly six-story parking garage.

What other city would have so ugly a thing next to one of its treasures?

C. Clark Jones

Parkville

Arming students still a foolish idea

College for many young people is a time to make the transition to adulthood ("University of Utah allows guns on campus," April 28).

For many, it's their first time living away from home and being responsible for making all of life's decisions.

It's a time when young people make mistakes and, we hope, learn from them without causing too much damage.

Binge drinking, drug use and promiscuity characterize the social life of many college students. Their relationships are filled with passionate highs and emotional lows.

Who in their right mind could argue that it is a good idea to permit students to have guns on campus?

Should we arm immature young people who are often involved in binge-drinking or drug-using and often on emotional roller coasters?

Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Frederick J. Hatem Jr.

Bel Air

Health reform poses harm to taxpayers

It is a continuing deception to refer to the possible expansion of health insurance coverage as "reform" ("Session of missed opportunities," Opinion * Commentary, April 27).

Politicians call this "reform" to camouflage their failure to take serious action to correct the many problems that reduce the effectiveness and increase the cost and the delivery of health care.

But in fact the inflated cost of health care is the greatest impediment to expanded health coverage.

Citizens and The Sun must hold the legislature and the governor accountable for improving the system to facilitate the expansion of care at the lowest incremental cost.

Let's get health care functioning efficiently before the expansion of coverage comes at the expense of the taxpayers.

William D. Sauerwein

Phoenix

Tillman deception dishonors command

What kind of a country are we? Where is our honor?

Of course I know that there are honorable people in this country. But our leaders are letting us down.

The members of the chain of command that apparently approved the lies to conceal and twist the story of Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire are a pitiable lot ("Cover-up alleged in Tillman death," April 25).

When a wrong is seen, someone has to speak up and stand up for what is right, even though it may be difficult.

That's what honor is.

Isn't that what they teach at West Point?

Robert Coleman

Lutherville

Photo of guardsman touched deep truths

As non-journalists, we are unaware of what awards or prizes are offered for news photos. But The Sun's management would do well to submit the tender and mesmerizing photo that graced Friday's front page to any and all such journalistic competitions and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring with the good news ("Emotional farewells for Md.'s guardsmen," April 27).

As readers, it seems to us that to be a truly great news photograph, an image must touch meaningfully on topical and universal themes.

As the situation in Iraq continues to dominate the national and international stage, the moving photo of Iraq-bound Staff Sgt. Daryl Cheatham embracing and bidding farewell to his somber godson, Hunter McColligan, hit both themes in one deeply powerful image.

At a glance, the reader is immediately made aware of the sacrifice of the brave men and women who serve in Iraq, of the concern and unease experienced by their loved ones back home, and of the timeless bonds of love and friendship that keep families and friends united during the most trying times of their lives.

We now pray for a front-page follow-up photo of Sergeant Cheatham hugging his no-longer-somber godson upon his safe and happy return to Maryland when his deployment is over.

Chris Doherty

Laura Doherty

Ten Hills

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