County adminstration shows no interest in history...


November 14, 1999

County adminstration shows no interest in history, environment

Baltimore County citizens and officials are searching for the mysterious people who bulldozed the historic Thomas Fortune House in Cockeysville. We need only search the county courthouse to find the real culprit -- the county executive.

Since taking office, C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger has made his opinion of historic preservation very clear by turning a blind eye to the destruction and demolition of buildings that make Baltimore County unique.

He ignored local citizens and groups who fought against the demolition of the Samuel Owings house. After he received stern criticism from the Landmarks Commission for the way that house was demolished, he replaced the commission with members who share his disregard for older and historic buildings.

The current commission has abdicated its duties, remaining silent as developers make plans to bulldoze historic structures in the county. They did nothing to protect the Thomas Fortune House.

The incumbent administration has shown little interest in Smart Growth, historic preservation or environmental concerns.

We need a county administration and Landmarks Commission that understand that it is very costly to everyone to build and buy new structures -- and that we need to recycle, reuse and restore everything we can, especially buildings.

Unless changes are made soon, no building over the age of 50 will be safe from the midnight, phantom wrecking ball.

Norma M. Secoura, Baltimore

Historical Trust should keep hands off private property

Where was the Baltimore County Historic Trust Inc. while the Thomas Fortune House sat deteriorating? For the chairman to call this demolition an illegal and dangerous act is an intrusion on the rights of a respected property owner ("County code protects historic structures, allows redevelopment," letters, Nov. 7).

The Texas area is in the process of becoming a beautiful commercial center. The owners of the Fortune house should be congratulated for helping clean it up.

The Historical Trust should butt out of other peoples business. If it wants to save other people's junk, let them go where they will be welcome.

Walter E. Boyd, Jr., Lutherville

It is ludicrous for Baltimore County to have a code which allows unelected bureaucrats such as the Baltimore County Historical Trust Inc. to have control over the sale of a private home.

If the trust wants to preserve a house, let it buy the house.

David Heston, Glen Arm

York Road doesn't need suburban-style `revitalization'

I am writing to protest James Ward's outrageous proposal to "revitalize" Belvedere Square. His vision of a "Main Street" in Govans would turn a stable, integrated neighborhood into just one more version of the suburban sprawl now found at the fringes of almost any small town or city in America ("Group searches for ideas to save Belvedere Square," Nov. 8).

Those who choose to live in the city do so precisely because we do not want to live in suburbia. If we want to go Old Navy or Denny's, we leave our quiet, shady neighborhoods where people sit on their front porches, and drive to the kind of area where we do not choose to live.

Within a half-mile of Mr. Ward's proposed new grocery and drug stores, we have a thriving Giant and Superfresh markets; RiteAid and CVS drug stores are just blocks south.

The commercial corridor could be enhanced by the kinds of small shops that originally filled Belvedere Market.

If Mr. Ward thinks tearing down lovely homes to build huge stores would improve my neighborhood, his vision is distorted and self-serving. It would destroy Govans as a vital city neighborhood.

Susan G. Shorr, Baltimore

Protect Gunpowder Falls against further development

The Sun's article on the state Department of Natural Resources rental property on Massemore Road failed to mention that the property has been carved out of the middle of the Mingo Branch/Bush Cabin Run wildlands of the Gunpowder Falls State Park ("State converts rented homes for tourism," Nov. 3).

Wildlands are ecologically valuable areas set aside to evolve without activities or management that would harm them.

This portion of the Gunpowder Falls park is already well-used by hikers, canoers, fishers, equestrians and others. Does DNR need to promote further the recreational use of this wildland that is so close to a rapidly expanding urban center?

As Aldo Leopold, the wise prophet who wrote "Sand County Almanac" 50 years ago, wrote ". . . all conservation of wilderness is self defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish."

Ajax Eastman, Baltimore

If Moseley-Braun is corrupt, what about John McCain?

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