Volunteer, nonprofit groups can revive cityThe April 21...


April 28, 1996

Volunteer, nonprofit groups can revive city

The April 21 Opinion Commentary page column by Barry Rascovar, "A city without leadership," and the column by Elise Armacost, ''Why should the counties do the right thing?" depict a depressing and sorry plight for the city and the entire metropolitan community.

That there has been a lack of leadership is no reason to despair. There are great untapped resources within the city and the metropolitan area that, if mobilized, could turn what now appears as a hopeless and despondent condition into one that holds promise for the future.

Baltimore has vast resources that have not been mobilized to meet community demands. There is a viable and thriving business community, which should be enlisted to work with government to improve what might now be viewed as a downward spiraling condition.

But what no one mentions as part of the process is the enormous reservoir of resources, talent and capability among voluntary associations, churches and non-profit institutions within the Baltimore area.

It is not only government and business that have an enormous stake in the survival, vitality and prospering of the community; all of these other institutions will ultimately decline and wither away if decisive action is not taken. These non-governmental and non-business institutions should be dedicated to meeting their community's challenge.

Historically unique to the United States, volunteer action has provided the leadership and drive to pursue worthy objectives. What can be a worthier goal than arresting the decline of so splendid a community?

The mayor should provide the leadership in bringing together all of the resources of the community. But if he does not, then it is incumbent on the leadership of the not-for-profit institutions to join with the business community to assume their community responsibility to deal with the social and economic metropolitan problems.

Call on all institutions, such as the private universities, college, seminaries, prep schools, hospitals, fraternal organizations, churches, synagogues, the volunteer organizations, the NAACP, the Masons and unions to meet the challenge Mr. Rascovar cited.

Charles Koblentz


James Rouse surveyed artists

A footnote to the visionary nature of James W. Rouse provides further evidence of his creative formula for success.

During the initial planning for Columbia and its first town center, Wilde Lake, I was employed as an art consultant and charged with recommending what artists desired in the way of lodging, studio space and part-time employment in order to encourage them to take up residence in the new town from its start. The hope was that Columbia would become more than merely a bedroom community for Baltimore and Washington.

Would artists prefer studio space as part of their residence or in a group location characterized as a galleria? Would they be willing to drive mini-buses for a job envisioned as providing a minimum, continuance income?

A survey was prepared and presentations made to the faculty and students at the Maryland Institute and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, with the results tallied and presented to the developer.

Who but James W. Rouse so thoroughly understood the significance of the arts to the well-being of a present or future community?

Bennard B. Perlman


Sierra Club helped kill 'brownfields' act

I noticed in the April 15 article, "Glendening draws fire on 2 fronts," that Terry Harris, conservation coordinator for the Sierra Club of Baltimore, is annoyed with Gov. Parris N. Glendening for not opposing suburban sprawl.

But I am far more annoyed with the refusal of Mr. Harris to oppose suburban sprawl. His Sierra Club worked extremely hard to ensure that "brownfields" legislation died in the last legislative session. This legislation would have cleaned up polluted sites, given a much needed boost to the urban economy and slowed down the gobbling up of fresh farm land by commercial and industrial development.

This is the kind of environmental activism we do not need. Mr. Harris, in his fundamentalist zeal, would rather punish sinful polluters than stop the spread of more pollution.

Nancy S. Struever


Naval Academy in perspective

In "Latest scandals shake Naval Academy pride" (April 12), the admissions policy of the Naval Academy was questioned. Rather than being a source of the academy's current malaise, it is one of its fundamental strengths.

I am a college professor who has taught at numerous colleges and universities, including Ivy League-type schools. When I taught at the Naval Academy for two years in the late 1980s, I found the student body to consist of outstanding young men and women from a broader cross-section of American society than at any institution with which I have been associated in my 20 years of university teaching. This outcome of the admissions process is accomplished even with political constraints that make the process more complex than for its non-military counterparts.

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