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Redevelopment poses challenges for Harlem Park and Poppleton | READER COMMENTARY

Authors of a new master plan say the old Harlem Park Theater on Gilmor Street in West Baltimore has potential as an arts hub. (Baltimore Sun staff).
Authors of a new master plan say the old Harlem Park Theater on Gilmor Street in West Baltimore has potential as an arts hub. (Baltimore Sun staff). (Baltimore Sun staff)

Thank you for Dan Rodricks’ column, “Promising plan, huge challenge: A Harlem Park renaissance in West Baltimore” (July 9). Mr. Rodricks combines journalism (what’s happening now) with historical inquiry (how things got this way), with moral challenge (what are we going to do about this?). His discussion of Harlem Park is mirrored in the past, present and future of the Poppleton area, just south of the Road to Nowhere. A week ago, Saturday, a large group of longtime renters and homeowners and their supporters gathered in Sarah Ann pocket park, just the kind of demolition-created park Mr. Rodricks describes in Harlem Park. The city has served eviction orders on the residents of Sarah Ann and nearby streets for something unspecified that will happen at some unspecified date, to be done by an out-of-town developer and likely not for the current residents of the area.

Community development is enormously complex, of course, but if we want to build a better Baltimore, I think our motto must be “People First.” These long-term residents of the Sarah Ann Street area are asking us to follow that model. What happens to them and their neighborhood represents not only a technical challenge but a moral challenge to Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration. I hope it will rise to the challenge — in Poppleton, in Harlem Park, and in so many other neighborhoods.

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Michael S. Franch, Baltimore

The writer is an affiliate minister with the First Unitarian Church.

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