Hotel construction, historic preservation can be done...

Letters to the Editor

July 25, 1999

Hotel construction, historic preservation can be done together

Recent articles in The Sun have chronicled efforts to build as many as nine new hotels in Baltimore ("Marriott hotel starts going up at harbor," July 21 and "City's financial aid for hotel supported," July 16). Comparisons to similar efforts in Philadelphia are instructive.

Although the two cities are each planning projects that will create about 4,000 hotel rooms, in Philadelphia more than 75 percent of them will be in adaptively re-used historic buildings.

In Philadelphia, developers are investing more than over $500 million to convert six center city landmarks to hotels. Loews, Grand Bay, Sheraton, Marriott, Marriott Courtland and Hawthorn Suites will all have projects in rehabilitated historic buildings.

In Baltimore, by contrast, we are providing payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) assistance to a project that will demolish the landmark Southern Hotel to build a new hotel. We could also lose 17 Light Street and 101-109 E. Redwood Street for a Marriott Residence Inn.

The Paramount on Howard Street, Baltimore's oldest continuously operating hotel, may be condemned for the west-side redevelopment. The proposed Wyndham and Ritz Carlton hotels have strained their historic neighborhoods.

Philadelphia has used public subsidies in ways that both provide hotel rooms and and preserve its history.

Baltimore could learn from its example.

William J. Pencek Jr., Baltimore

The writer is president of Baltimore Heritage Inc.

Population explosion threatens our way of life

While I was pleased to see The Sun's article "Population of the world hits 6 billion," I was sorry it was buried on page seven. No issue is more important than overpopulation, but it gets little attention from the press and our political leaders.

If current growth rates continue, some estimates suggest global population will double to a staggering 12 billion in the next 40 years.

Effects of this population explosion are already being felt. Thousands of children die daily from starvation, many plant and animal species are becoming extinct, our air and water is being polluted and our climate altered; rain forests and other wild places are getting smaller and new, terrifying diseases are emerging.

Locally, we experience a declining quality of life as we spend more time stuck in traffic or standing in lines and witness the deterioration of the bay and the loss of open space to unrestrained development.

We can address population growth in our own country by offering incentives for small families.

We can support economic development and the education of young women in developing countries. This seems to be the best way to control high birth rates.

It isn't too late to put the brakes on overpopulation -- the alternative is too dreadful to contemplate.

Karen Carle Meyers, Towson

Kennedy's crash shows flying restrictions needed

As the facts about the plane crash of John F. Kennedy Jr. and his two passengers emerge, I am angered that our government would allow anyone to obtain a pilot's license who isn't able to read the flight instruments crucial to controlling an airplane in bad weather or when the horizon is obscured.

This is analogous to allowing a person a driver's license even though they can't read a speedometer.

Are the skies filled this very moment with rich businessmen who have the means to buy their own planes but have so few flying skills?

Do their passengers know the risk they take when they fly with such pilots?

If federal regulations required pilots to be proficient in flying by their instruments in bad weather, perhaps John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and her sister would still be alive today.

John Sealine, Ellicott City

Y2K liability limits law will save everyone money

Thanks to Congress, Maryland's businesses will still have some protection from the inevitable flood of Y2K lawsuits. While Maryland has failed to enact such protections, President Clinton has indicated he will sign the bill Congress recently adopted to protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits ("Fair protection from Y2K lawsuits," July 10).

This legislation guarantees that businesses that devote resources to their Y2K-related computer problems will not have to pay again in litigation.

The bill is good for consumers as well. When our courts are clogged with unnecessary and frivolous litigation, each of us, as taxpayers, pays the bill.

This legislation will reduce that burden and save millions in tax dollars that would otherwise be spent on excessive litigation.

As the year 2000 approaches, consumers as well as businesses must seek solutions for possible computer problems. But litigation is not the answer.

Phillip D. Bissett, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of Baltimore Regional Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

SUVs and other cars can be made less polluting

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