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Rodricks: Ferries won't replace the Bay Bridge we have — but they could replace one we don't have yet

A hybrid ferry in the Netherlands, the 442-foot Texelstroom, powered by electricity with diesel backup, can carry 1,750 passengers and 350 vehicles.
A hybrid ferry in the Netherlands, the 442-foot Texelstroom, powered by electricity with diesel backup, can carry 1,750 passengers and 350 vehicles. (Corvus Energy)

Today’s column follows up on four earlier columns, starting with one from last month about getting cars and trucks across the Chesapeake Bay: Mail and social media comments ran roughly 8-to-1 in favor of my suggestion that Maryland explore electric-powered ferries.

Readers liked the idea of taking a ferry from the Baltimore or Baltimore County waterfront to, perhaps, Rock Hall, or from a point south of Annapolis to Claiborne or Cambridge. Many said a ferry crossing would be a pleasant way to get from here to there, and some saw added eco-value in putting travelers on the waters we need to protect.

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Gov. Larry Hogan needs to 'call the Norwegians' about getting a fleet of battery-powered ferries to cross the bay at multiple points

Those who did not jump aboard seemed to think I had envisioned “multitudes” of ferries to replace the current bay bridges, and they gleefully offered practical math to kill that idea. But that’s not my idea.

What I proposed was a carbon-free alternative to a multibillion-dollar third bridge, another mass of concrete and steel across the beautiful bay.

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I don’t suggest ferries for nostalgic reasons, or because I want to see more development on the Shore. I suggest an electric ferry system as an alternative that would take traffic pressure away from Route 50 and the current bay bridges. It is worth a feasibility study.

One death, and then another: On the first Tuesday of August, 27-year-old Bryan McKemy was at work on a single-family house on Woodlea Avenue in northeast Baltimore. His boss had been hired to renovate the place and prepare it for sale. Around 1 p.m., when Bryan was working on a door at the rear of the house, two men jumped a fence, crossed the backyard and started shooting at the house.

A neighbor said she heard at least six shots. Bullets hit Bryan. He died on the porch.

The gunmen ran to a car and the car took off.

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A detective who investigated the shooting concluded that Bryan was not the intended target of the attack. According to police, the gunmen were after the owner of the house, a fellow named Ryan Brunson.

No arrests had been made by mid-October, when I interviewed Bryan’s parents and wrote about the young man’s senseless death, one of 304 homicides in the city last year. Bryan’s dad, Scott McKemy, keeps hoping for a break in the case. He stays in touch with the detective assigned to it. And that’s how he learned that a gunman — either one of the shooters from Woodlea Avenue or someone else — caught up with Brunson and shot him dead on Monday, March 18, inside a rowhouse on Appleton Street in West Baltimore. He was also 27 years old, and the 60th homicide victim of 2019.

Last of the Old York Money Gang: A federal judge sentenced 25-year-old Tre Beasley to life in prison for numerous crimes, including murder, as a leader in the Old York Money Gang that operated in the Waverly neighborhood of northeast Baltimore. That makes 10 OYMG members who have been sent to prison since the feds, with the help of Baltimore police, cracked down on the gang’s operations, which included contract killings, extortion, robberies and crack sales.

The man accused of fatally shooting 3-year-old McKenzie Elliott in 2014 pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court.

Next month, when 30-year-old Rell Plumber goes to court, his sentencing will hopefully mark the end of OYMG. He’s the final defendant in the series of racketeering cases that followed one of the city’s most painful tragedies, the death by stray bullet of 3-year-old McKenzie Elliott in Waverly in 2014.

The feds arrested Plumber three years after McKenzie’s death. He eventually pleaded guilty to firing the shot that killed the little girl. During a time of depressingly constant violence — and police corruption — the feds have been almost non-stop in making cases like this, so much so you’d think the pace of violence would have eased by now. And yet, the city has had 71 homicides in the first 95 days of 2019.

There was a buyer for Sellers: In last month’s piece about the potential for redevelopment in West Baltimore’s Harlem Park, I noted that historic Sellers Mansion sits in decayed stateliness on Lafayette Square, waiting for a suitor. Four years ago, when my colleague Jacques Kelly wrote about it, the mansion was in receivership with One House At A Time, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the city’s inventory of vacant properties. Lisa Evans, the executive director of One House, says Sellers Mansion Partners LLC purchased the place for $10,000 in 2016. The principal is Ernst Valery, who specializes in housing investments with tax credits for historic properties and properties in low-income urban neighborhoods. He sounds like the man for this job, and it’s a big job. I was not able to reach Valery to ask about his plans for the mansion, so that means I’ll probably have to follow up with another follow-up.

The once-grand Sellers Mansion, built just after the Civil War at Arlington Avenue and Lanvale Street, was purchased by a developer
The once-grand Sellers Mansion, built just after the Civil War at Arlington Avenue and Lanvale Street, was purchased by a developer (Baltimore Sun)
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