Senior housing supported at Harbor Hospital Center Cherry Hill petition backs proposed project

June 11, 1996|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

Cherry Hill residents, led in part by 6th District Councilman Melvin L. Stukes, are circulating a petition in support of a long-stalled proposal for a senior housing complex at Harbor Hospital Center.

Hospital officials put a hold on the proposal earlier this spring after residents of Reedbird Avenue complained that the complex, which would be built in the hospital's south parking lot, would block their views of the Patapsco. The hospital said in February that it would not move forward without more community support.

Now Stukes, Cherry Hill newspaper publisher Sheppard Burge and other residents are trying to rally community support for what they say is a badly needed project. Stukes, who heads the Cherry Hill Improvement Association, says the petition already has about 400 signatures.

"I believe there is more support among Cherry Hill residents for the senior housing than the hospital has been led to believe," Stukes said. "There has been misinformation."

The improvement association has had two meetings in attempts to dispel notions that Cherry Hill residents could not afford to live in the proposed complex. In the most recent meeting, held Saturday at Hemingway Temple AME Church, 30 residents attended, and half of those signed a list for people who would be interested in living in the complex, Stukes said.

The housing would consist of a 120-unit apartment building with projected rents of $400 to $475, a four-story building with 100 beds for nursing care and assisted living, and a senior center. The seniors would govern the $16 million to $20 million community on the hospital's south parking lot, overlooking the Middle Branch. It would be the first retirement housing built on Baltimore's waterfront since 1974.

While Stukes says his views are pragmatic, opponents of the project have a more historical perspective. Lenox Coles, a chief opponent and chairman of the Larue Square Improvement Association, says the city has reneged on decades of promises to develop parkland around the hospital. He says he will fight to make sure that residents do not lose their views or access to the waterfront.

Coles accuses Stukes, Burge and others of misleading the community about the hospital's intentions.

"Melvin Stukes is not working in the interests of the people of Cherry Hill," Coles said.

Pub Date: 6/11/96

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