Federal Hill view is a landmark city must protectThe Sun's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 18, 1999

Federal Hill view is a landmark city must protect

The Sun's editorial ("Not in anyone's back yard," June 14) linking neighborhood concerns over the proposed Ritz Carlton Hotel to NIMBYism misses the point.

The hotel would not be built in Federal Hill's back yard. It would be built in the entire city's front yard.

The hotel, whether six stories high, 13 stories high or 23 stories high, would sit at the foot of Federal Hill Park overlooking the Inner Harbor.

The park is a cherished neighborhood resource and an urban treasure that serves people from all over the metropolitan area as well as tourists.

On weekends, hundreds of strollers, joggers, picnickers and families relish the scenery. On weekday mornings, visitors from the Inner Harbor hotels are drawn to the hill.

The park not only has historic value but is the best free vantage point of the Inner Harbor and a vast panorama of the city's reborn neighborhoods and industrial and maritime heritage.

That value has been recognized for decades by planners. City planners' 1990 Key Highway Waterfront Study and a study of the proposed hotel site by the architects of the Neighborhood Design Center in 1992 stressed the importance of preserving the view of the harbor from the park and of the park from the opposite shore.

City officials anticipated that advice nearly two decades ago by limiting new construction on the proposed hotel site to the height of the existing industrial warehouse -- roughly five or six stories above Key Highway.

The damage that could be done to the historic symbolism and scenic value of Federal Hill Park should concern all Baltimoreans.

Yes, we in Federal Hill have a special relationship with the park. But it isn't just ours.

James S. Keat, Baltimore

Selling a panorama for some empty promises

When will we start asking the right questions about the proposed Inner Harbor Ritz Carlton hotel? Almost all of the discussion has been about losing the magnificent view from Federal Hill or developing the old propeller factory.

No one has asked, "Why will this Ritz Carlton be successful?"

The Inner Harbor is littered with great expectations that turned sour. HarborView didn't sell as many condominiums as it had planned to and required tax relief from the city. Harrison's Inn did not make it and Scarlett Place had difficulties.

What is different this time? Why are the wealthy suddenly going to flock to Baltimore and need luxurious accommodations -- to see other millionaires play sub-par baseball or an Ohio football franchise that Baltimore's fans had to bail out?

Does Marriott stand behind this venture financially? This is the same corporation that had no qualms about letting Maryland think it was considering leaving the state long after it had decided to stay to win concessions from the state.

We should expect no change in negotiating tactics during discussions about this hotel.

We should remember that if this proposed hotel is not successful, the citizens of Maryland will have sold one of the most beautiful views in America for a stack of empty promises.

Frank R. Reilly, Baltimore

Don't let the Russians push us around in Kosovo

It appears we will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Kosovo ("Diplomats focus on standoff," June 15).

The Russians are engaged in a gigantic bluff and NATO and the United States have no one to call it: no John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan or Harry Truman or Theodore Roosevelt.

We seem only to have Neville Chamberlains, who want peace at any price.

NATO will be left with whatever Russia allows in Kosovo. We are being humiliated and we don't have the gumption to resist.

The Russians have proved again that they can't be trusted. We should deploy a huge tank column, break through the Russian lines and take over the Pristina airport.

If we don't, I see another Berlin airlift in the making.

John Lockwich, Baltimore

The continuing humiliation of NATO forces at the Pristina airport in Kosovo by a handful of Russians is deplorable. If the allied commander on the scene had been Gen. George S. Patton, this "standoff" would have lasted less than five minutes.

Jay Lamar, Timonium

Eisenhower wasn't idle while in the Oval Office

Every time Joseph Michalski Jr. drives on an interstate highway, he can thank Dwight D. Eisenhower, the "do-nothing" president ("Eisenhower: a fine general but a mediocre president," letters, June 13).

Eisenhower was so impressed with the autobahn in Germany and Austria that he inaugurated the interstate highway system here. Anyone over 65 can tell you what it was like to drive across the country before we had interstate highways.

He also transformed medical treatment for heart attack. Against medical advice, he played golf while recovering from one.

When he thrived instead of dropping dead, researchers took another look at exercise after heart attack.

Eisenhower ended the Korean War, enforced integration of public schools, established the Air Force Academy, put Explorer I into orbit, established NASA, reorganized government agencies and much more.

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