Parking shortage? Count the spaces available downtown...


July 16, 2000

Parking shortage? Count the spaces available downtown

It's hard to believe Baltimore has a parking garage problem. If you think of all the new high-rise garages that have been built downtown in the past 10 to 20 years and of all the law firms, headquarter office companies, professional offices, department stores and even dime stores that have left over the same period, one wonders why parking is such an issue.

There are 24,000 parking spaces downtown. Mercy Hospital has two high-rise garages on Calvert Street, one as high as the Orleans Street viaduct. Just up the street is The Baltimore Sun's block-long garage.

The city just finished an eight-level garage for Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown that takes up an entire square city block and for which historic structures were sacrificed. That garage is in addition to the six levels of parking already inside the Alex. Brown Building.

Saint Paul Plaza at Lexington Street has 10 levels of parking, with offices on top and another garage planned next to it behind the Masonic Temple on Charles Street.

Harbor Park has four to five levels of parking on top of its movie theaters. Landmark Parking's half-square block at 414 Water St. and South Gay Street garage has nine levels, part of which extends out over the sidewalk. Up the street is the garage atop and around the Legal Aid Society.

Lexington Market has a relatively new high-rise garage next to its East Market and plans to add four levels on top of its West Market Garage. Another multi-level garage forms the base of the Redwood Tower Apartments on South Paca Street. University of Maryland built a four-level underground garage in front of University Hospital with three other garages on the downtown campus.

All of this is in addition to the high-rise, surface and underground garages that ring the Inner Harbor.

None of these structures existed 10 to 20 years ago. Active commercial buildings stood on their sites. More people worked and shopped downtown. Today, we don't have a parking problem in downtown Baltimore as much as safety and other issues with regard to public transit use.

Harvey Schwartz, Baltimore

Riverdale enforcement predated news articles

I am writing to clarify a point made in your June 20 article "Ex-apartment's owner agrees to $500,000 fine."

The article concerned a $500,000 payment by Richard Schlesinger, owner of the former Riverdale Village Apartments, to resolve charges that he violated the equity-skimming provisions of the National Housing Act by failing to adequately maintain the apartments, which were subject to a federally insured mortgage, and by misusing the property's income.

That article stated that the federal and county investigations began in September 1997 after a series of articles in The Sun. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had already taken a series of enforcement actions well before then.

In May 1995, HUD issued reports of physical and management reviews which found the condition and management of the property to be "Unsatisfactory."

In October 1995, HUD requested that the inspector general perform an audit of the property to identify any financial irregularities.

These audits started the chain of events that led to the recent $500,000 settlement.

In early 1996, HUD initiated an enforcement process that resulted in the owner being issued a limited denial of participation in further HUD programs and his ultimate debarment from participation in any of HUD's programs.

HUD referred the case to the U.S. attorney for possible action. As a result of this referral, the U.S. attorney filed a civil complaint against the owner. This complaint was settled by the recently announced $500,000 payment by the owner.

Harold D. Young, Baltimore

The writer is Maryland state coordinator for HUD.

Morgan faces future of separate, unequal

In explaining the impact that past academic program duplication had on Morgan State University, Mike Bowler (June 21) wrote, "The Morgan president looks at his school through the lens of modern history."

At the ripe old age of 80, I have been around long enough to give perspective to the current struggle Morgan is enduring. It dates back to the Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka decision of 1954, providing for the integration of public elementary and secondary schools.

In complying with the Brown decision, the pattern in most Southern states was to move black students to white schools in white neighborhoods. Black schools previously located in black neighborhoods were converted into either technical and vocational schools or office complexes for local government agencies.

This model of integration allowed the states to comply with the Brown decision without having to send white children to black schools in black neighborhoods.

Baltimore City fathers recognized that it was only a matter of time before public colleges and universities would be required to integrate as well, and they sought to replicate the model used in elementary and secondary education.

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