Light-Rail Construction and DowntownEditor: The closing of...


October 30, 1990

Light-Rail Construction and Downtown

Editor: The closing of the Hallmark Hotel is a significant loss for downtown Baltimore, especially at a time when Howard Street can ill afford to lose another viable business.

There is no question that light rail construction is at a peak this month on the block in which the hotel is located. How much of a factor this is in the overall business climate for the hotel is something we will never know.

We know how hard Bernard Sandler has worked to keep the hotel afloat. We tried to help him by relocating a bus stop which became a nuisance, providing as much access as possible during construction and providing signs. But too many conditions were at work.

Ironically, on the same page where the hotel article appeared was another story describing a proposal to build a 600,000-square-foot office complex at Camden Station. It will provide tax revenue and jobs and be on a site where public facilities will be adequate to handle the density. Undoubtedly, the availability of light- and commuter-rail service on the site, together with good highway access, played a major role in putting the proposal together.

Early in September, developer Otis Warren was given the go-ahead for a major federal office complex to be located above a light-rail stop at Howard and Baltimore Streets. Warren was quoted in the Sept. 24 Evening Sun as saying that in the General Services Administration's site selection process '' . . the key was . . . that particular location . . . was close to the Metro stop . . . and then, luckily enough, . . . the contract was signed to put the light rail down right in front of it.''

Transportation improvements like the Central Light Rail Line will mean change for downtown Baltimore. Looking five years out or longer, it should be positive: more jobs, stronger economic performance for the city and the region and more urban vitality.

The Mass Transit Administration makes every effort to be a good neighbor to the communities we serve. We regret that while thousands of people will benefit from the new light-rail system, this necessary progress toward a new era in downtown development is accompanied by pain to one landmark from another.

Ronald J. Hartman.


The writer is the MTA administrator and general manager.

Fishy Rules

Editor: The Department of Natural Resources has not been fair to the sport fishermen in Maryland. With the opening of the rockfish season, the fishermen of Maryland were told they could catch two stripers while individuals on a charter boat could catch five. Now the Department of Natural Resources has closed the season three weeks early for the sport fishermen of Maryland but the season continues for charter boats -- those on board are allowed to catch two stripers.

The Department of Natural Resources has discriminated against all sport fishermen in the state of Maryland. In the future, I hope they will treat all fishermen equally.

Ray Hofmann.


Clear Path

Editor: Your continued opposition to a ''yes'' vote on the tax cap referendums is transparently easy to understand.

Your paper, of course, is one of the more vocal members of the managerial establishment that believes it has been celestially chosen to determine what is ''best'' for the rest of us. This establishment -- consisting of bankers, corporate lawyers, well-heeled doctors, industrialists, politicians, anchormen, editors, etc. -- has always harbored an uneasy fear that the ordinary voter-taxpayer will some day actually carry out the democratic process. And, undoubtedly, you have already perceived that the current referendum effort is in fact merely a symbol, a beginning statement that the establishment membership is no longer to be trusted. It is too smug, too self-satisfied, too uncaring of others, too greedy.

In the past, the easy, off-putting answer to voter dissatisfaction has been and is today: ''If you don't like what they do, vote them out.'' A sop to the importunate, of course, and virtually meaningless, since once ''in,'' the politician members with their myriad money connections almost always remain entrenched until eased out by their more aggressive peers. And that doesn't happen very often.

However, with providence on the side of the virtuous, this coming election may be a little different.

I would not venture to predict what my fellow voters will do, but my own path is clear. I shall vote happily in favor of any candidate who does not hold office as of this writing, and for no others. I regard that as a very positive vote and hope that other voters will do likewise.

After that, strict term limitations for all elected public office holders.

Jack Bond.


No Debate

Editor: ''Will Schaefer Debate?'' The Sun asks.

No one is interested in a debate and nothing of consequence is ever said in a debate. It is a sham full of statistics turned upside down and inane statements full of fluff and innuendo.

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