Dislocation presents risks to settlersThe recent...

The Forum

September 05, 1995

Dislocation presents risks to settlers

The recent demolition of the Lafayette Courts high-rise housing project was both dramatic and symbolic. But while many have hailed the dismantling of this most troubled area, few have asked where the people who lived there have gone?

The answer is that they have been distributed, willy nilly, throughout the rest of the city in what have until now been stable neighborhoods, and their presence is being acutely sensed.

The city's most intractable problems -- violence, drugs, robbery, high unemployment, vagrancy -- are appearing in neighborhoods like Fells Point, Little Italy, Butchers Hill, Federal Hill and Highlandtown. Neighborhoods such as these are the cornerstone of Baltimore, but the balance in terms of livability is a delicate one.

These neighborhoods are occupied by a rapidly aging population with one notable exception: the city's latest breed of tTC settlers -- educated, well-paid professionals. The importance of this newer segment cannot be overstated.

It contributes the lion's hare of non-commercial tax dollars to the city's coffers, engages in a host of essential civic activities, provides business and cultural opportunities through patronage and presence and helps to ensure the continuing vitality of the downtown area.

Unlike many, this group has a choice. Its members possess the wherewithal to live anywhere, but remain in the city as a matter of preference. The introduction of the dislocated public housing tenants into their communities, however, may tip the balance in favor of abandonment at precisely the time when resources are most desperately needed.

The Schmoke administration should have pondered more carefully the consequences of its chosen course.

At a minimum, it should have considered providing such bare essentials as enhanced police coverage to the affected areas.

As things stand now, the method of distributing the city's problem population may amount to throwing the baby out with the bath water. This factor should have been considered well before any physical renovation.

Scott Riback

Fells Point

Barren patches

As a downtown business owner and long-time city resident, it infuriates me to see the deplorable state of the ivy and flower beds that used to grace the areas bordering Charles, Pratt, Light and Calvert streets. These lovely green areas gave grace and beauty to the inner city. No more.

Today these planted areas are a disgrace. There are far more barren patches than green spaces. The beds now provide area for litter, living and toilet space for the ''homeless'' and a convenient place for beggars to harass tourists as well as Baltimoreans for some ''change.''

The original landscaping included automatic sprinkler systems so that these areas could be maintained. As long as the water flowed, the garden areas flourished. But the current city administration has turned the water off and the plantings have been devastated.

So please, Mr. Mayor, don't come to me as you have in the past and ask for additional funds to make Baltimore City more attractive, safe or hospitable. And don't squander my tax dollars by having city workers plant additional seedlings that, without water, will die again this year as they have the last four years because you won't turn on the water.

Carole L. Oliver

Baltimore

The writer is the co-owner of the Wharf Rat Restaurant.

Proud of town

Many, many thanks to your staff writer, Carl Schoettler, for his great interview and write-up on teacher Cheryl Shiflett (Aug. 29, "School the apple of Dundalk-bred teacher's eye"). He covered the subject of teaching little ones and our town, Dundalk, very well!

Dundalk has been celebrating its 100th anniversary this past year and our closing ceremonies will be on Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. in Heritage Park. We are very proud of our town and the values we try to pass along.

I, too, went to Dundalk Elementary School, about 68 years ago, and I live much closer than Cheryl -- only a half-block away. Most of my teachers, too, left me with fond memories. Thanks again.

Margaret R. Rytter

Dundalk

Of course, not fair

In the storm of controversy surrounding the Shannon Faulkner/Citadel incident, I cannot help but feel that somebody, somehow, is missing the real point.

The Citadel exists, as every military institution exists, to prepare its members ultimately for war. Perhaps The Citadel wasn't fair to Shannon Faulkner. Well, neither would war be. The puzzling thing about war is that there are no rules. War is not fair to anyone.

We are all victims of the lie that the military is a vehicle for personal promotion. That lie is extended to the premise that Ms. Faulkner was denied a singular opportunity that includes status and education.

Beneath the mask of technology, the military at its core is a killing machine, a machine that of necessity must possess some element of the ruthlessness of war for which it is created. Without that element it would never be found fit for the purpose of national defense.

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