Progress being reported in Park Heights

November 18, 1997

I AM RESPONDING to your Nov. 5 editorial, "Park Heights: As city fails to curb crime and grime, declining area ponders extra tax."

While most of the editorial's highlights were accurate, as a whole they painted a very inaccurate picture through omission.

As the city business assistance coordinator in this area, I serve as a liaison between the city, community groups and business associations. Your readers deserve to know about the other side of this story.

For example, rather than characterize the city's efforts as sporadic, one might note that the city has consistently committed annual allocations of federal block grant funds for this area, totaling $5.541 million since 1990.

Furthermore, groups like the Pimlico Merchants Association with the assistance of the Northwest Baltimore Corp. and the police department have begun to obtain measurable success in addressing crime in the area.

In 1996, total crime in the area was down 18 percent, violent crime decreased by 10 percent, property crime decreased by 21 percent, robbery and larceny were down by 16 percent and burglary decreased by 34 percent. In addition, the merchants have established an anti-crime program that is being emulated by other business associations in the city.

The city has additionally responded to the merchants' efforts by establishing a program to provide grants to improve lighting in the immediate vicinity of a business if that business agrees to bear the cost of maintaining the lights. More than 20 businesses have expressed interest in this program.

As to fighting "grime," we have sent information to each merchant concerning city sanitation services, their responsibility for excess garbage and the penalties for failure to meet those responsibilities. In addition, the city will be placing three new sanitation enforcement officers in the northwest sector to assist with this and other related efforts.

Theodore R. Laster Jr.

Baltimore

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