Officials ignoring Hollander's woes The newest plans...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 21, 2001

Officials ignoring Hollander's woes

The newest plans for Hollander Ridge and the surrounding area will not be the panacea that the city, the American Civil Liberties Union and others think they will be ("Plans change for ex-public housing site," April 8).

A member of my family moved into the senior high-rise at Hollander as one of its first occupants.

In the beginning it was a great place to live. Slowly, as the surrounding townhomes were opened to recipients of Section 8 housing subsidies and the high-rise was rented to people other than seniors, the area changed -- not for the better but for the worse.

The building's front desk did not keep non-residents from roaming the halls. Seniors were harassed, apartments broken into and drug dealers replaced the good people who originally lived there. Many seniors no longer felt safe. A showplace became a ghetto. Hollander Ridge was less than 30 years old. Yet in that short time, it went from a utopia to a slum. This is what will happen again, no matter how much money is poured into the area.

When will those who enjoy taking taxpayers' hard-earned money and wasting it over and over again in the name of supplying low-income housing realize that unless those who live there have a financial stake in the area, the area will not survive?

Pride of ownership comes when you have earned that ownership. Subsidized housing never made anyone respect and care for his or her environment.

Lois Raimondi Munchel

Baltimore

City needs intelligent planning

The Sun's "Urban Chronicle" column recently featured a disturbing vision offered by Baltimore City Planning Director Charles C. Graves III ("Facing a great challenge," April 5).

Apparently, Mr. Graves wants to create a Baltimore of lower density by clearing whole blocks for development to give people garages and open space. His model is the fast-growing Sunbelt cities.

Sunbelt cities -- or, rather, metropolitan areas -- are sprawling, featureless amoebas full of smog and freeways and devoid of sense of community. Those of us remaining in Baltimore chose city life over the suburbs for the variety and vitality Mr. Graves wants to erase.

Baltimore is already composed of neighborhoods of houses of all types of design, style and lot size. It does not need to construct pretend town centers such as those in White Marsh, Columbia or Owings Mills.

Indeed, Baltimore is virtually unrivaled anywhere in the country for its stately and well-planned homes and neighborhoods. Any needed new construction should be well-designed urban infill development, not the wholesale replacement of block after block.

The mayor should look no further than Boston, Pittsburgh and New York for success stories rather than irrelevant Sunbelt metropolitan areas.

The mayor should revive Baltimore by setting up a nonpolitical, commission to explore ways to attract new residents and the resulting expanded tax base.

Some of the effort is purely about image and could involve a cutting-edge advertising campaign. The Inner Harbor and tourism are great, but the city needs to get the word out about the better city neighborhoods and their amenities.

The mayor and the governor know revitalizing and repopulating Baltimore is Smart Growth. A strong city-state alliance is needed to make this happen.

But let's get beyond the Digital Harbor and use the Smart Growth initiative to revive Baltimore's great neighborhoods.

Brian Kelly

Baltimore

The writer is a historic preservation architect.

Oyster restoration needs time to work

With the largest and most ambitious effort ever to restore the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population under way, there is no reason to talk about throwing in the towel on the bay's native oysters ("New hope for restoration of oysters," April 6).

In 1999, top oyster scientists brought together decades worth of research and came to a consensus (something that doesn't happen often) on a strategy to greatly increase native oysters in the bay.

This strategy involves reconstructing hundreds of oyster reefs throughout the bay, setting them and a portion of oyster grounds aside as sanctuaries, stocking them (when appropriate) with high densities of healthy oysters and rehabilitating thousands of acres of harvest bars to support a revived fishery.

The plan has the support of more than 5,000 citizen volunteers, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Maryland's congressional delegation, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, scientists, state and federal agencies and the watermen's community.

Implemented bay-wide, this approach intends to increase oysters ten-fold by 2010.

Scientists should continue to consider a wide range of ways to bolster the bay's oyster population. However, any discussion introducing a non-native oyster to the bay now only skirts fundamental problems that must be addressed directly.

To save the oysters and the bay, we must first reduce pollution, restore lost habitat and establish a sustainable fishery.

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