Using the arts to help revitalize distressed areasNancy...


June 26, 1999

Using the arts to help revitalize distressed areas

Nancy Haragan and Debra Rubino's letter, "Arts emphasis could help city thrive," (June 21) was right on target.

Their message, that cities like Baltimore flourish when the arts touch all aspects of citizens' lives, resonates across Maryland -- as distressed communities adopt innovative programs to rehabilitate retail districts and create jobs.

Using the arts to rehabilitate older areas can bring people, shopping and entertainment back to downtowns. Such visions for economic revival are becoming reality in places like Hagerstown, which on Friday officially designated an arts and entertainment district.

Last year, I introduced a bill that would make artists full partners in Maryland's economic development and Smart Growth efforts.

It would enable local jurisdictions to designate priority cultural districts -- where qualifying artists and patrons, and building owners who convert commercial properties to living or studio space for artists, would receive tax incentives.

This model can be used by any community that feels it meets its needs -- and every city and town has an area that is not being fully used.

This bill did not pass in the 1999 General Assembly session, but prospects are improving as grass-roots support grows.

Well designed arts and entertainment districts across our state will help encourage pride and possession among citizens and make communities productive, vibrant and desirable places to live, work and visit.

Joan B. Pitkin, Bowie

The writer represents District 23 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Lt. Gov. Townsend offered sympathy, not egotism

I was stunned to see letters in The Sun that portrayed Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's response to the June 8 Beltway bridge collapse in a negative light. ("Townsend grandstands after Beltway accident," June 18).

I was at the accident's scene and heard everything the lieutentant governor had to say.

She began each interview by expressing sympathy for the victims and their families and offering them her prayers. She thanked the rescue workers for their heroism and prompt response and police and highway personnel for quickly rerouting traffic.

Ms. Townsend's words and actions were genuine -- on-and off-camera. I know her presence meant a lot to those on the scene.

In the wake of the accident, Lieutenant Governor Townsend demonstrated the qualities we want most in elected officials: caring, compassion and leadership.

Beverly Swaim-Staley, Reisterstown

The writer is deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

I read with great consternation the two letters concerning Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's visit to the Beltway bridge collapse site June 8.

Both writers implied that the visit was politically motivated. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I was with the lieutenant governor at a political event immediately before the bridge collapsed. When she learned of the accident, her immediate response was one of concern and compassion for the victims. Her appearance at the accident site resulted solely from those emotions.

More disturbingly, one letter scurrilously attacked the whole Kennedy family. While citizens have a right to their opinions, I expected more from The Sun's editorial staff than to publish such abrasive commentary.

Ms. Townsend has made public one of her top priorities as lieutentant governor. Her visit to the accident site is indicative of her concern for public safety and the citizens of Maryland.

Kevin B. O'Connor, Cockeysville

The president of the Baltimore County Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Accident victim thankful for aid

As one of the victims in the Beltway bridge accident June 8, I am at a loss for words to express my gratitude and love for the people who came to my aid.

It is hard to imagine the feeling of seeing pieces of concrete falling before me and being unable to stop; then, after the crash, finding that several people were immediately at my side giving aid.

I don't know who they were, but I will always remember the paramedics and the nurses and doctors in the shock trauma unit.

Elizabeth A. Freeman, Baltimore

Can't we make truckers pay for damage they cause?

The truck that knocked over a pedestrian bridge on the Baltimore Beltway caused major traffic delays as well as death and injury.

And, earlier in June, an overturned truck carrying black powder caused tremendous disruption on Interstates 95 and 495 in Virginia ("Truck accident snarls D.C. area," June 3).

Is there some way of requiring trucking companies to compensate local governments and commuters for the tremendous waste of time and effort such accidents cause?

Louis F. Drummeter Jr., Catonsville

An Afrocentric comic not tailored for whites

Of the many cartoons in The Sun, only a few are by African-Americans. And now, because Aaron McGruder breaks the trend of adjusting black comic strips to meet white America's standards, people want him gone ("Boondocks: racist or revelatory?" June 12).

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