Money for waterfront could bring the city many happy...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 12, 2000

Money for waterfront could bring the city many happy returns

The reluctance to provide public funding for completion of the waterfront promenade ("Battle over paying for promenade heats up," Sept. 3) is an example of penny-wise, pound-foolish public policy that will keep Baltimore from achieving its full potential as a first-rate, livable city.

It's a well-documented fact that private investment follows public investment in infrastructure and amenities.

Our suburban competitors know this and businesses and residents flock to jurisdictions where basic investments in roads, streetscape, open space and bike and walking trails are actively used public goods, not incomplete projects subject to endless debate.

Businesses benefit every day from massive subsidies for roads, schools and port facilities. For a substantially smaller investment (one the state would probably be willing to provide), the city could finish the promenade and ensure public access to and enjoyment of one of the city's few indisputable assets.

Do we really care so much if a landowner makes a few dollars of profit because we beautify our shorelines? Are we so stingy as to deny ourselves a pleasant environment just because some developers and corporations taking a substantial risks may benefit financially?

Sure, Baltimore is strapped for cash and needs better schools and more drug treatment slots. But what better way is there to finance needed social services than by increased tax revenues generated by private investment in a beautiful and thriving waterfront?

It's called return on investment and we should embrace it.

Lisa Stachura

Baltimore

Other barriers also block access to the promenade

The Sun cited "one case" of "Thames Point apartments ... refusing to obey city laws requiring public access to their waterfront" by "raising a steel fence" ("Battle over paying for promenade heats up," Sept 3).

This overlooks the locked, spiked gates that block promenaders from the section of the Inner Harbor promenade that passes under the World Trade Center building. These gates are often closed as early as 6 p.m., forcing promenaders to walk around the building.

While I am sure someone can float a reasonable-sounding justification for this, based perhaps on security concerns, is this not also in violation of the city ordinance?

Sutton R. Stokes

Baltimore

I am disappointed that bicycling was not a consideration in the design of the city's 7.5 mile waterfront walkway.

I hope future development in the Inner Harbor, Fells Point and Canton areas will include off-street trails for bicyclists.

Fred Weiss

Baltimore

Repeal of estate tax would simplify tax code

The president's recent veto of a bill that would have repealed the estate tax represents a missed opportunity to begin a long-overdue simplifying of the tax system ("Clinton vetoes bill aimed at cutting inheritance tax," Sept 1).

Mr. Clinton said the repeal bill would have cost the government $105 billion over 10 years.

This may be true, but it ignores the savings from the Internal Revenue Service's enforcement costs, which would no longer be needed, and the cost of professional advice sought by many Americans who want to avoid this tax legally.

Mr. Clinton's claim that the bill favored the wealthy may be true, but more and more middle-class Americans will have to deal with this tax as the value of their homes and retirement accounts grow to exceed the $1 million threshold for the estate tax set for the year 2006.

Bruce H. Lubich

Baltimore

Don't hold nuclear waste hostage to petty politics

It is all well and good that electric utilities can sue the government over its failure to provide for the disposal of their spent nuclear fuel, but that still leaves fuel at the more than 100 reactors across the country ("Utilities can sue U.S. over buildup of nuclear waste," Sept. 1).

Although the fuel is reasonably safe at reactor sites, it is less secure than it could be. A centralized federal facility, as previously promised by our government, makes tremendous sense. It is impossible to understand, beyond politics, why the Clinton administration vetoed a congressional bill to establish such storage.

We also have the specter of nuclear plants not being able to build extra storage on site because of various state and local issues and actually having to shut down. In these days of short supplies of electricity, that is the last thing we need.

Nuclear waste is too big a concern to be held hostage to petty politics. We need to move along on this problem -- and getting the fuel off the reactor sites would be a big step in the right direction.

Marvin Roush

Takoma Park

Citizen support will keep effort to reform council alive

Thank you for The Sun's editorial "A small setback for good government" (Sept. 2). Its call for continuing citizen pressure to reform the Baltimore City Council was music to the cars of those of us who spent much of our summer on the almost-successful petition drive for nine single-member council districts.

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