City Life's treasures retained We wish to comment on...


February 05, 2000

City Life's treasures retained

We wish to comment on several recent letters regarding the closing of the City Life Museums ("City museum offer a window to our past," Jan. 20).

Museums in this country began with Baltimore's Peale Museum (which opened in 1814) and Baltimore has both encouraged and benefited from them ever since.

Any loss like that of the City Life Museums is certainly regrettable for a city so rich in its tradition of support for such institutions.

But it is the institutions, not their collections, that are gone.

Their treasures are in good hands and will be seen again.

Remember also that the city has museums devoted to dentistry, light bulbs, trains, trolleys, great blacks in wax, visionary art, contemporary art, tattooing, industry, science and sideshows.

The City Life Museums' collections and unique buildings remain, but the organizational loss must be a reminder of the need for private support to keep such institutions open for our education, entertainment and amazement.

Dick Horne and James Taylor, Baltimore

The writers are co-directors of the American Dime Museum.

The Sun's column, "City museums tell us much that we need to know" (Opinion Commentary, Jan. 12) reminded me how fortunate we are in Baltimore are to have such rich, local historical resources.

As the president of the Baltimore History Alliance (an organization encompassing more than 20 local history museums and historical sites), I am proud to say that the process of connecting residents with their city's past that has just begun in Philadelphia, Boston and Washington has been going on in Baltimore for years.

While it was unfortunate that the Baltimore City Life Museums closed, their collections are still open to the public through extensive educational programming and exhibitions at the Maryland Historical Society, which acquired and now cares for much of the museum's collections.

Along with the other members of the Baltimore History Alliance, the Maryland Historical Society is dedicated to seeing that city residents have access to Baltimore's proud history.

How fortunate we are in Baltimore that the founders and shapers of this city had the foresight to preserve the city's history.

Dennis A. Fiori, Baltimore

The writer is director of the Maryland Historical Society.

Mayor should review city golf courses

The Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. (BMGC) has essentially banned walking on Baltimore City's public golf courses ("Driving golfers to distraction," Jan. 15).

They claim, with no supporting evidence, that banning walking and pull carts, and requiring golfers to rent carts, will speed play.

What this new policy will do, by increasing the lowest fees for play by 50 percent, is dramatically increase BMGC's revenues.

For obvious public health reasons, citizens should be encouraged to walk on the golf courses. The primary purpose of public recreational facilities should be to provide people a chance to get exercise in their urban environment. And these facilities should be as accessible as possible.

A 50 percent fee increase may make golf too expensive for many working class and retired residents.

Walking is the traditional way golf has been played. Now that tradition is ended on Baltimore's courses. No other municipal golf courses has such a policy.

The Baltimore City golf courses are run by a private corporation, through a lease with the city. This lease gives the city no control over its own courses.

Over the years, the controversial policies instituted by the BMGC have generated numerous conflicts with golfers.

The Baltimore County golf courses, by contrast, are operated by the Baltimore County Revenue Authority. It is fiscally independent, but is overseen by a board of directors appointed by the county executive.

The county authority has improved the county's courses and built two new courses, without creating the misery that the BMGC has generated among city golfers.

Perhaps that authority can be a model for the best way to run the city's courses.

The operating lease for the city's golf courses comes up for renewal in March.

Now is the time for Mayor Martin O'Malley to either rewrite the lease to provide more oversight or establish a new entity to operate the city's courses.

Eric Johnson, Baltimore

Fostering self-esteem in school

Reading Judith Schlesinger's article on The Sun's books page ("`Self-esteem' is the enemy of learning and civility," Jan. 9), one might come to the conclusion that today's schools are warm and fuzzy, feel-good institutions, packed with ignorant students basking in unearned self-esteem.

Excuse me? If we've learned anything at all from the Columbine High School tragedy and its aftermath, it's that many students -- including highly intelligent ones -- find school to be an intolerably hostile place, nurturing nothing but frustration and rage.

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