Land-loss figures show startling trend for state...


July 02, 2000

Land-loss figures show startling trend for state agriculture

There seems to be a discrepancy between Maryland's calculation of land lost to development as reported in two Sun articles.

On June 20, the article "Effort to save the farms to start with 1 1/2 -year study," Ted Shelsby reported that "Maryland lost 100 farms and 50,000 acres of farmland last year."

On June 23, ("Funds set aside to save farmland,") Joan Jacobson reported that Gov. Parris Glendening said that the state preserved nearly 47,000 acres in the past three years and "now we see more land preserved in Maryland than lost to development."

If 50,000 acres of farmland were lost last year and approximately 15,600 acres (47,000 divided by 3) were preserved, how could that possibly represent greater preservation than loss of land?

There are a number of programs for preserving agricultural land, including the Rural Legacy program, conservation easement programs of the Maryland Environmental Trust and numerous local land trusts, as well as the state's Agricultural Land Preservation program. These are all wonderful and important programs, but agriculture also needs to be profitable for the farmers to remain on the farms.

Del. Ron Guns, D-Cecil, is to be lauded for calling for a 20-year plan to preserve and promote farming in Maryland, and the study to be conducted by Bruce Gardner of the University of Maryland's Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources is a good start.

Bear in mind, though, that another 75,000 acres of farmland will be gone if we fail to intervene sooner to increase agricultural land preservation and make agriculture more economically viable for the farming community. This may even mean the need for spending a little more for our food.

Maryland should not foreclose its ability to be agriculturally self-sufficient in the future. Important of food products may become problematic should fuel prices become prohibitive, or catastrophes hit the great food-producing regions of today.

Ajax Eastman, Baltimore

Mercenary governor's crass welcoming remarks

I was appalled at the remarks of Gov. Parris N. Glendening as reported in The Sun June 24 ("Throngs hail tall ships") urging visitors to "spend lots of money, pay lots of taxes" (sales taxes, I presume) while in our city.

This was in contrast to Mayor Martin O'Malley's gracious welcome to the ships, their crews and the thousands who had come to celebrate this spectacular free event.

How many people will return home remembering not our hospitality, but our crass desire to pick their pockets?

Nancy Holden, Baltimore

Glitzy design for west side belongs in the suburbs

My admiration for Ed Gunts and his insightful view of architecture and development continues to grow.

He is right on target with his comments regarding doing something that will maintain and build upon the present-day environment in the west-side development area ("Keeping it real," June 18).

While I do believe there can be an attractive and successful mix of the new with the old, the glitzy design presented by The Design Collective should be built in the suburbs, not the city.

Also, Lexington Mall can take advantage of its bazaar-like presence and be turned into an interesting pedestrian-only attraction unlike any other in the area. Re-opening the mall to automobile traffic is a serious mistake.

The architects and planners certainly can be more creative.

Leon Bridges, Baltimore

The writer is a former national vice president of the American Institute of Architects.

Morgan State well serves region as its urban university

As a graduate of Morgan State University and a past president of its alumni association, I am deeply disturbed by the negative reporting and editorials at the expense of a university that has historically and effectively served the community.

I have no problem with your support and banner-waving for University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I am very concerned that while you wave the banner for one school, you try to destroy another.

You seem to believe UMBC is the model for integration of public universities. This is far from the truth. Morgan, as an urban university, does an excellent job educating a diverse population of students who were not admitted to other universities. This is the model we should promote.

Why do you assume that the undergraduate program in electrical engineering at Morgan is of less quality that one which would be placed at UMBC?

Why is it such a negative assertion that Morgan only graduates about 100 electrical engineers a year, who have gone on to successful careers and further study?

Why is it that UMBC cannot or would not seek to partner with Morgan to attract its graduates for its "high-powered graduate electrical engineering program"?

Why is it that Morgan is challenged for having a lower retention rate and lower graduation rate, when other colleges and universities admit only scholars and the select among our urban population?

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