Watermen, scientists agreeingWe are writing to clarify a...

SATURDAY'S MAILBOX

March 21, 1998

Watermen, scientists agreeing

We are writing to clarify a potential misperception conveyed by your March 12 article "Watermen, Md. square off over clam dredging," on hydraulic clam dredging in bay grass beds.

Environmentalists and watermen have had disagreements in the past, and will likely have them in the future. However, the protection of bay grasses from clam dredging is not an issue we disagree on.

In fact, this year is marked by three very important issues in which the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Maryland Waterman's Association have been working together to solve common problems.

The first is clam dredging in submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds. Our organizations both support prohibiting clam dredging in existing bay grass beds. Your article mentions that the state task force has produced heated exchanges between scientists and fishermen, but it has also produced consensus on this very point. Your article doesn't mention this.

Second, our organizations and others have worked hard on a task force to fix several problems with the state law that limits the number of commercial fishermen that ply the waters of the state. The result is a consensus bill that protects the fisheries resources of the bay and the livelihoods of Maryland watermen.

Last and perhaps most important, our organizations both strongly support efforts to reduce the polluted nutrient runoff from agriculture that has been noted as one of the biggest threats to the water quality and fisheries of the Chesapeake Bay.

Reducing nutrient pollution will also reduce the risks associated with toxic Pfiesteria, which had such a dramatic effect on the state seafood industry last year.

Watermen and environmentalists have much in common -- most significantly, protecting the Chesapeake Bay.

For all the times that we disagree on how to solve our common problems, there are so many more that we agree on.

Larry Simns

Annapolis

Thomas V. Grasso

Annapolis

The writers are, respectively, president of the Maryland Waterman's Association and Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

City should wait for Westin details before subsidizing Wyndham hotel

The Waterfront Coalition has asked members of Baltimore City Council's Taxation and Finance Committee and Chairman Martin O'Malley to delay action on the tax exemption for the Wyndham hotel for 90 days.

Baltimore needs to determine whether the tax exemption is necessary in light of Harvey Schulweis' proposal to build an Inner Harbor Westin hotel without public subsidies.

Under the proposal, the Wyndham would be asked to pay $1 in property taxes a year for 25 years. This means that during the 25-year period, the city could lose an average of $3.5 million a year.

Grants and low-interest loans totaling $10 million are also proposed.

The total subsidy for the hotel over 25 years could be as high as $97.5 million.

The entire premise of the subsidy is that the private market will not build an Inner Harbor hotel. The city needs to determine whether the Schulweis-Westin proposal is genuine and will go forward before any subsidy bills are passed.

Carolyn Boitnott Baltimore

The developers of the proposed Wyndham Inner Harbor East hotel appeared March 11 before the City Council to make a strong pitch for their project.

The pitch was a hardball aimed at selling the hotel on the basis of minority employment. It was racial politics, pure and simple.

Of course it is important to have minorities involved in the construction and maintenance of the hotel, but to emphasize and re-emphasize that point over and over again to the exclusion of other selling points, if there are any, was a cynical ploy.

It is implicit that minority participation will be a strong component in any of the other hotel proposals being discussed.

Nevertheless, the negatives surrounding the John Paterakis Sr. project remain: The hotel design, even in its modified form, is still too ungainly. The site is still too far from the convention center. And the $25 million tax break agreed to by the city is too large.

Contrary to Baltimore Development Corp. President M. J. Brodie's assertion that no major downtown hotel was built without public funds in the past 15 years, it is being done in several cities across the country.

Therefore, the proposal by Harvey Schulweis to build a hotel with private money should not be ignored. The details of his financial package need to be fleshed out and studied, and the room rate should be at a reasonable level, but his site certainly is the best one in town.

I hope the Wyndham project is left to cool on the back burner for eternity.

Janet Heller

Baltimore

Single-sex classrooms a crucial option

As the president of one of the nation's oldest women's colleges, I must voice my concern about the recent report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

The authors, reversing a six-year trend in their own research, claim that single-sex classrooms for girls do not provide a remedy for gender-equity problems.

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