A Broken WillI would like to bring a larger perspective to...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 11, 1994

A Broken Will

I would like to bring a larger perspective to the coverage of the protest against Mercantile Safe-Deposit & Trust Co.'s breaking of Seton Belt's will.

Your July 16 article short-changed the major issue. The article's single mention of "old growth woods" missed the critical fact that Belt Woods is a national treasure -- it has the highest density of forest songbirds in the United States, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Belt Woods is a truly ancient, 10,000-year-old forest ecosystem right here in our own backyard.

Mr. Belt clearly understood the uniqueness of this heritage and wanted strongly to preserve these 400-year old trees for future generations.

His will specifically stated that the timber in the Belt Woods "shall not be sold" and that the trustee was specifically "prohibited and enjoined from selling" the property.

Mr. Belt also intended to benefit his church's charitable purposes, so he left $3 million and five additional farms to generate income.

The article didn't mention the money, these other farms, nor that the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Mercantile have already sold some of the land for over $2.8 million.

Seton Belt generously placed over 3,200 acres in trust. With 2,700 acres sold or for sale, millions of dollars are available for charitable purposes.

Yet Bishop Ronald H. Haines, claiming inadequate income, wants to sell the remaining 515 acres Belt Woods property for housing tracts.

The Sun article indicated that the Sierra Club supports sale of the land to a conservancy at the "farm and forest value."

However, other environment organizations, including ours, are calling on the diocese to donate the land instead. The bishop and the bank should not put a multi-million dollar price tag on something never intended to be sold.

Bonnie Bick

Bryans Road

G; The writer is president, Maryland Conservation Council.

Drug War Victims

It broke my heart to see the picture of the young mother talking to her unconscious baby girl in the hospital (July 25). The police captain explained that the girl was shot by a stray bullet, and later died.

How many times does this tragedy have to repeat itself before our elected officials get it through their thick skulls that the "war on drugs" is more than just a failure, it is a national disaster.

Our children are dying violently every day, mostly due to the brutality of the illegal drug trade.

Yes, cocaine and heroin are highly addictive and can ruin the user's life, and the abuse of pot can be detrimental to one's mental faculties (though if used moderately by adults, as with alcohol, the negative effects are slight).

But are these harmful effects of drug abuse worse than the daily carnage which is washing our streets with the blood of babies? Absolutely not.

Yet our elected leaders refuse to face reality, and instead repeat the same tired, puritanical, and patently false claims that keeping drugs illegal and waging "war" on sellers and buyers is the correct strategy.

This is insanity. The true victims of the misguided war on drugs are those beautiful young children slain before they've had a chance to experience life, and their grieving families.

Enough is enough. End the war, legalize and regulate drugs, and concentrate on educating people on the pitfalls of drug abuse.

Otherwise, let our leaders know that our children's blood is on

their hands.

Michael Gurwitz

Washington

Her Own Self

Women in business and government are often depicted as indecisive, weak-willed and never aggressive enough.

When they are portrayed as firm and forceful, they often are accused of being the front for someone else, often a man.

The critics of Nancy Grasmick , state superintendent of education, are no exception.

In a recent article depicting Dr. Grasmick as a firm and powerful force in school reform, her critics contend she must be fronting for Gov. William Donald Schaefer and education board chairman Bob Embry.

Susan P. Leviton

Baltimore

Incorrect Terms

Although I don't always agree with the views expressed in Michael Olesker's columns, his writing is normally clear and concise.

However, Mr. Olesker's misuse of the word "stepparents" in his July 31 column about Tommy Roberts' artistic development blemishes an otherwise sensitive story about having faith in those who are challenged.

bTC According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a stepfather is the husband of one's mother by a later marriage.

Tommy Roberts was adopted. Adoption creates a parent-child relationship, not a stepchild-stepparent relationship. Adoption is one of several ways to form family.

Unfortunately, there are enough biased views held today about adoption without having to confuse the issue with incorrect terms.

William and Pamela Brown

Baltimore

Abortion Tax

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