Baltimore transit hub is a must The Charles North...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

March 11, 2000

Baltimore transit hub is a must

The Charles North Community Association shares the concerns of the business community regarding the closing of Charles Street to rebuild a bridge and construct a Greyhound bus terminal at the corner of Lanvale and Charles streets ("Traffic woes due with detour," Feb. 26).

We agree that everything possible must be done to ensure that the theaters and entertainment venues between Penn Station and North Avenue remain viable while Charles Street is closed. That's in everyone's best interest.

But the bridge is old, unsightly and in dangerous condition. There is no alternative: It must come down -- and in a manner that does not halt train service or close the Jones Falls Expressway.

Because of the complexity of the project, the street must be closed. The payoff will be a safe and attractive bridge, and a spacious plaza in front of Penn Station that provides a far more inviting entrance to the Charles North Community.

The building proposed for the corner of Lanvale and Charles streets is not just a bus station, but the final link in creating an intermodal terminal.

It will provide connections between Amtrak, MARC trains, light rail (including service to Baltimore-Washington International Airport), taxis, city buses and even the Jones Falls bike trail.

For the first time in Baltimore, it will connect these modes of transportation with inter-city buses.

Throughout the country, cities are developing intermodal terminals which provide easy transfer among as many modes of transportation as possible.

Hundreds of towns and cities are far ahead of Baltimore in this effort.

In many cases the terminals have brought renewed vitality to the surrounding neighborhood, bringing life to often derelict areas.

Amtrak's new Acela high speed train service will begin this year. It is the closest thing to European-style rail transportation ever seen in the United States.

Amtrak has cooperated with federal, state and city officials to rebuild or restore virtually every major terminal from Washington to Boston. Penn Station is our access to these exciting developments; it's time to get on board.

Baltimore has train service many other cities envy. That should function as a transportation hub, with inter-city buses as the spokes, providing easy connections to such destinations as York, Pa. and Annapolis, which have no rail service.

The only logical place for such a terminal is Penn Station.

Greyhound has made every effort to respond to community concerns and suggestions.

In addition to bus bays located out of sight and away from the street, the terminal will offer a large parking garage with an attractive entrance at Charles and Lanvale streets (including a police Koban and retail outlet). This will benefit the theaters and entertainment along Charles Street.

Now an ugly parking lot, the location could become an anchor for future development. It could bring new visibility to the St. Paul Street Historic District, thanks to the proposed water-wall and plantings along St. Paul Street.

It might eventually encourage redevelopment on North Avenue, an area in desperate need.

The Charles North Community, has suffered from years of neglect by city agencies and irresponsible landlords and faces pervasive problems of drugs, crime, public drinking and loitering.

As a major gateway to a major city, it's an embarrassment.

It's time to get our heads out of the sand and look toward the future. The future is intermodal.

Theodore Feldmann, Baltimore

The writer is a member of the board of the Charles North Community Association.

County gets `A' for hire

I am terribly disappointed, although not particularly surprised, at The Sun's editorial criticizing the Baltimore County Board of Education's efforts to find a school superintendent to succeed Anthony G. Marchione ("Board's empty gesture," March 2).

The Sun's conclusion that "public participation in the process . . . is just window dressing and an afterthought" could not be more incorrect or counterproductive.

As a member of the Board of Education, I took an oath to act in the best interests of the students of Baltimore County and I believe the board has done just that.

A procedure designed to select the most qualified superintendent was announced to the community before we began.

The promise of confidentiality for candidates for the position was a critical element of our process.

Identifying the applicants prior to the selection of a candidate would have significantly reduced the number of highly qualified candidates who might apply.

I believe three of our final five candidates would not have applied without a commitment to confidentiality

The issue is simply one of common sense.

Sitting superintendents who might otherwise consider Baltimore County an exciting and challenging opportunity would be putting their current position in jeopardy if their names became public and they were not selected.

How many of us would announce to our current employers that we are seeking another job?

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