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The Baltimore Sun

Open space fight roils Roland Park

The editorial "Talk it over" (July 6) trivializes the loss of irreplaceable green space by treating it as a silly conflict between a neighborhood and the Baltimore Country Club and the Keswick Multi-Care Center.

However, the proposed expansion of Keswick into Roland Park would eliminate one of the last large pieces of unspoiled ground on the north side of the city. This project is grotesquely out of proportion to the space involved and would create massive traffic problems and infrastructure burdens.

The Sun urges that the parties involved "confer." But this deal was secretly concocted between BCC and Keswick with no community involvement. The plans for the development have still not been made public. Confer?

The editorial fails to note that the community has made repeated offers to purchase the land at fair market value over more than a decade.

The destruction of this land would change the fabric of the neighborhood forever.

The Sun argues that Baltimore needs more senior housing, but Roland Park already has ample facilities for the elderly.

This issue is not about old folks. It is about a commercial venture and the loss of green space.

Why doesn't Keswick explore options elsewhere in the city where there is demonstrated need and where such development might help revitalize a community?

Christopher Corbett, Baltimore

I was most disappointed by the editorial backing compromise on the impending sale of Baltimore Country Club green space for development by the Keswick Multi-Care Center.

The Sun's view notwithstanding, this is about far more than preserving a sledding hill for privileged Roland Park children.

There is very little green space left in Baltimore, and what there is must be preserved.

Roland Park - the nation's first planned garden suburb - is one of Maryland's gems. Although its edges have, over the past few decades, been eroded by commercial and high-density development, much of which has been poorly done, the BCC-Keswick deal would be in a league of its own.

The BCC land is not perimeter land; it juts right into the heart of Roland Park. Whatever its eventual size, the Keswick development would not be out of sight and could never be out of mind.

Simply having a smaller development on the land would be about as acceptable as having a small mall built over Colonial Williamsburg instead of a big mall.

Douglas Munro, Baltimore

The writer is Web site editor for the Roland Park Civic League.

While The Sun is entitled to its opinion, the editorial "Talk it over" appears to be based on some mistaken assumptions about the issue.

To quote the editorial: "If the sale goes through, the property would have to be rezoned and the battle would shift."

In fact, the sale will not go through unless the property is rezoned.

Here's another quote from the editorial: "It appears neither side has found an effective way of talking to the other. ... Both have missed opportunities to avoid a confrontation."

In fact, the Roland Park Civic League has desperately tried to engage the Baltimore Country Club in talks on this land for more than a decade, including several outright offers of purchase.

The country club in recent weeks has refused repeated requests from the community for details about the Keswick Multi-Care Center's plans. It has blocked even the Roland Park Civic League's attempts to address club members.

I understand the desire to be balanced in an editorial. But painting the Roland Park community as equally obdurate in this matter is irresponsible.

Peter Grier, Baltimore

The Keswick Multi-Care Center recently announced its interest in purchasing a parcel of land from the Baltimore Country Club to continue its mission of providing the highest level of senior care in Baltimore. News of this plan to build a continuing care retirement community on Falls Road has led to concern and intense, vocal protest.

At this early stage, the plans are, of necessity, conceptual, although Keswick is trying to preserve the character of the Roland Park neighborhood and a significant amount of green space.

Until the BCC membership votes to approve the sale of the land, unfortunately Keswick is not in a position to initiate the appropriate dialogue with the community.

But this much I can say on its behalf: We cherish our reputation as a top-quality provider of services to seniors. This reputation has been earned through consistent sensitivity to residents, staff, constituents and community.

Should the sale be approved, Keswick looks forward to actively engaging in an open and constructive dialogue with all relevant parties, including the residents of Roland Park.

We very much want to continue the good-neighbor policies we have always practiced.

Dorothy Boyce, Baltimore

The writer is president of the board of the Keswick Multi-Care Center.

U.S. global reach distorts our ideals

As an American, and a patriotic one at that, my love of country has been strained of late. To see our republic transform itself into a neocolonial empire is no cause for celebration. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, our actions in the former Yugoslavia and our constant meddling in the affairs of nations around the globe are frightening.

Noam Schimmel's interpretation of Independence Day illustrates my point. He proclaims that we must bring our fragile democratic ideals to everyone everywhere ("Independence Day in Africa a time to take stock of America," Commentary, July 4).

He hectors us that our "promise of freedom, democracy and equality" is something to be exported and suggests Americans need to be "defending these convictions wherever and whenever they are threatened."

I love my country and respect most of my countrymen. But I do not love the world - it is too big.

America and our democratic beliefs should remain here.

We can be an example, but we cannot command.

Rosalind N. Ellis, Baltimore

Officer's murder given less ink

The Sun was wrong to say in its editorial "Travesty of justice" (July 3) that the only thing certain about the series of events involving the death of a 10-year veteran Prince George's County police officer who was a father of two and the subsequent death of the individual arrested in his killing is that the death of the accused is an outrage, a disgrace and a failure of the "system."

It is also certain that news coverage and editorial space The Sun gave the death of the accused far exceeded the coverage (with no editorial attention) of the death of the police officer, and that the NAACP decried only the death of the man accused of the officer's killing ("NAACP decries P.G. jail probe," July 3).

J. Shawn Alcarese, Joppa

New fire chief will be big asset

Anne Arundel County Councilman Ronald C. Dillon Jr.'s comment about fire services Chief David L. Stokes' retirement that "the county letting Chief Stokes go is a huge mistake" cannot go unchallenged ("Fire chief retires again," July 4).

The councilman's comment is unfortunate. It implies, intentionally or not, that Mr. Stokes' successor, Deputy Chief J. Robert Ray, is inferior in experience and ability to Mr. Stokes.

Such a judgment can be made only after Mr. Ray has had an opportunity to prove his mettle as fire chief.

And this administration has complete confidence that Mr. Ray, like Mr. Stokes, will be well-regarded and remembered as an outstanding head of county fire services.

Dennis Callahan, Annapolis

The writer is chief administrative officer for Anne Arundel County.

A small arena for a small city?

As Baltimore and the Maryland Stadium Authority consider a new arena for the city, the question often has been: How big will it be ("Still rockin'," July 2)?

I keep reading that the new arena should have a capacity of 16,000 or less, instead of the 18,000-to-20,000-seat capacity needed for Baltimore to get an NBA basketball team or even a hockey team.

The "experts" say we don't have a chance to get such a team. Well, last week, the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics finalized their move to Oklahoma City. Yes, Oklahoma City.

Is Oklahoma City a larger, more up-and-coming metropolis than Baltimore?

This city continually thinks small, and will therefore always remain a second-tier city.

Vernon M. Gentile, Baltimore

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