Overwhelming view of barge restaurant: 'Bubba...

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July 25, 1998

Overwhelming view of barge restaurant: 'Bubba Schmubba!'

Editor's note: The writer is not the publisher of The Sun.

The building of the Bubba Gump restaurant in the Inner Harbor is taking the expansion of the Inner Harbor too far. It appears that the citizens of Baltimore are not for this idea, no matter the stance of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and David Cordish. Mr. Cordish said in Friday's Sun, "This restaurant is going to be built." That is fine Mr. Cordish, but we don't have to come.

Kevin R. Blackwell

Catonsville

We believe the construction of the large Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant on a barge between the National Aquarium in Baltimore's two pavilions on Piers 3 and 4 sets a dangerous precedent for both the aquarium and the entire Inner Harbor.

The Board of Governors of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, one of the Inner Harbor's oldest and most popular attractions, would be derelict in its duty not to oppose this radical departure from what has been the vision for the area since the aquarium's very beginning.

The charm and beauty of Baltimore's Inner Harbor have long been among the great attractions of living or visiting here. We believe that the outstanding work of many of Baltimore's most distinguished leaders, including former Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, in revitalizing this extraordinary area and in bringing responsible development and growth to our Inner Harbor is now endangered.

We also believe the Bubba Gump project threatens the very economic health of Baltimore's most effective commercial attraction for Maryland residents and the millions of visitors to the city.

It is important to remember that the aquarium attracted 1.7 million visitors last year, has an economic impact of more than $197 million per year and employs more than 400 people. The aquarium's announced, long-term plan calls for a major expansion to accommodate changing exhibits that will ensure continued growth and economic stability for the aquarium in the years ahead. Since 1981, the aquarium has shown compounded annual growth in visitors of 17 percent, and our future calls for similar growth in the years ahead. The new diagonal bridge, already approved by the city's Architectural Review Board, maintains visitor access to both of our buildings and maintains our ability to maximize peak visitor utilization.

We believe that placing the restaurant between Piers 3 and 4 also threatens the aesthetic values of the east side of the Inner Harbor. It cuts off sightlines to Piers 5 and 6 and is the first step, we fear, to a future where people's contact with the water, the very element that distinguishes the Inner Harbor from waterfront developments elsewhere, is lost.

We have always supported the responsible development of the Inner Harbor, and we hope the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant eventually makes its home in Baltimore. That home should not, however, be on a barge out in the waterway of the Inner Harbor. We have no choice but to strongly oppose a project that damages the aquarium's ability to provide a safe, positive and healthy environment for visitors, that has a potential impact on the aquarium's ability to meet changing exhibit needs vital to its future, and that is aesthetically unattractive.

Our Inner Harbor is Baltimore's crown jewel. We believe its future is worth defending.

Ralph H. Gibson

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the board of the National Aquarium.

Thank you so much for your wonderful July 16 editorial "Don't give city's jewel a tacky setting." I couldn't agree more; well, yes, I could agree more because there is an issue you have not addressed -- noise pollution.

The megaton amplifier at Rash Field during the recent Avon 10K walk-run is an excellent example of the contempt the "Hollywood glitz" crowd has for the residents of downtown Baltimore. Thanks again for a fine editorial.

Rosalind Ellis Heid

Baltimore

So Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke wants Paramount's Bubba Gump seafood restaurant barge parked in front of the Power Plant. Isn't the harbor supposed to be for the benefit of all?

Mr. Schmoke, take your Hollywood shades off and focus on Baltimore's real needs. The kind of low-wage, service jobs that this project will bring Baltimore is just the kind we don't need. Plenty of neighborhoods need your attention. The poverty, crime, grime and the educational problems of troubled Baltimore City should come first.

Pat Hornburg

Baltimore

As a citizen of Baltimore who has seen the Inner Harbor come alive since the building of the aquarium and the other attractions, I am appalled at the hard-nosed attitude of the mayor and the Cordish Co. in their insistence that the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. be located in a place where it would have the maximum negative effect on any aesthetic considerations. Surely there are other locations that can be considered. And why aren't they?

Anne G. Imboden

Baltimore

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