The wrong site selected for visitors center The Sun is...


July 13, 2002

The wrong site selected for visitors center

The Sun is right. Baltimore's decision to locate a new visitor center adjacent to the Harborplace Light Street pavilion is wrong ("... not another ice cream stand," editorial, June 17). Baltimore needs such a facility, but a better location can be found.

When the people of Baltimore voted to support the development of the Inner Harbor, the city agreed to protect the space between Harborplace and the Maryland Science Center from further development. That commitment should be honored.

After a meeting several months ago with the mayor and others, I concluded that there was no consensus in favor of the Inner Harbor site. I believed the mayor would not move forward without that consensus. Now we learn that a groundbreaking is planned for next month.

This is another bad decision concerning public land.

The visitors center must be easily accessible, provide convenient parking and must not compound Inner Harbor traffic. The proposed site does not meet these tests.

I urge the mayor and the city's leadership to strengthen their commitment to tourism and all it encompasses -- the convention center, the visitors association, the attractions and the best location possible for a new visitors center.

Most of all, I urge all those responsible to be faithful to the past, keep their word and stick to their commitments.

William Donald Schaefer


The writer is comptroller of the state of Maryland.

More chain stores just what city needs

Should we lament the rise of chain retail outlets and restaurants in Charm City or jump for joy ("Chains dilute local flavor of Harborplace," July 1)? To all the complainers, I ask: Might it not be our penchant to shun national chains that is the very downfall of our city?

We live in a capitalist, consumer society -- in a city devoid of diverse consumer options. Yes, we have our share of quirky, Baltimore-style shops, but it is precisely in the national chain department that we are lacking.

We have hardly any Starbucks compared with other cities. We have only one Gap, and no Urban Outfitters, French Connection, Crate & Barrel, or Abercrombie & Fitch (to name a few). We are the only major city on the East Coast without a serious retail strip such as Georgetown, South Street in Philadelphia or any of a dozen mile-long shopping streets in New York.

Yet some in Baltimore complain that national chains are ruining our city? We are virtually bereft of them.

Besides, national chains link us with our fellow Americans, and they don't kill local businesses, they foster them.

Just take a walk down South Street in Philadelphia, where Starbucks is surrounded by locally owned coffee shops, where the Gap and French Connection are immersed among more than a dozen artier, small clothing stores, where Tower Records is an island in a sea of independent CD shops and record stores.

So I make a plea to all who cling to this notion that Baltimore is some great mecca of small-time retail to wake up and smell the coffee (served to me in a cup size called Venti) and realize it's time to get this city into the fray of big-name retail, so we can save our city and our economy and bring more business and residents downtown.

Lonnie Fisher


Super-size homes make juicy target

Just when the angst over SUVs was getting a bit stale, along comes something new to despise. It's the SOLD (Super-sized Obscenely Large Domicile) ("Howard Co. is Maryland's `roomiest' area," July 7).

Many of us with no need of the "really big" think the SUV and the SOLD both:

Consume inordinate amounts of raw materials in their production and energy in their operation.

Gobble up scarce space on the highways and in our landscape.

Block our views of motorists and idyllic scenery.

Are purchased perhaps more to gain status than to meet any necessity.

Tempt some owners to feel "above" the rest of us -- taller, more massive, better.

Are often obscenely extravagant and are good examples of both the successes and excesses of our society.

There is one big difference. The potential number of SUVs seems unlimited, as their market share continues to increase, and there's sometimes a bit of room left on the roads. But land for SOLDs is fast disappearing, at a rate accelerated by the SOLD craze itself.

I think it will be much more fun, and a bit more safe, to rant against the smaller clique of SOLDs rather than the ubiquitous SUVs.

I feel better already.

Nelson L. Hyman


Both North, South profited from slavery

The Sun's June 9 Arts & Society section included a review by former editorial page editor Joseph R.L. Sterne of three books relating to our Reconstruction era. Never have I seen a reviewer precede his review with a diatribe that serves to disqualify him for the task he is undertaking ("The legacy of Reconstruction outweighs the Civil War's").

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