`Hippodrome' will remain on theater's facade In...


August 09, 2002

`Hippodrome' will remain on theater's facade

In response to Patricia Montley's comments on the Hippodrome Theater ("Hippodrome's history belongs on marquee," Opinion

Commentary, July 31) I'd note that from the outset of the redevelopment project, the Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) and its partners recognized the value and consequence of the Hippodrome name.

Baltimore's citizens with fond memories of the theater, preservationists and public officials share this view.

No one involved in the redevelopment ever planned to ignore the Hippodrome name. The very same drawings that sold the France-Merrick Foundation on its investment in the abandoned theater prominently display the restored Hippodrome sign on the front of the building.

But it is perfectly appropriate to recognize important contributions that help restore historic landmarks.

And at a time of great doubt about the redevelopment of the Hippodrome, France-Merrick conceived of a plan to get the project on track and challenged Baltimore's philanthropic and corporate institutions to match a $5 million grant.

The France-Merrick Performing Arts Center will encompass four buildings: The Hippodrome Theater, Western National Bank, Eutaw Savings Bank and a major new lobby building. And we are developing appropriate exterior signage that will recognize the France-Merrick commitment.

However, it will not be designed at the expense of preserving the Hippodrome name, which will remain prominent on the building's facade.

Mark Sissman


The writer is president and CEO of the BCPA.

Checkbook graffiti at the Hippodrome?

Patricia Montley is right on the money when she asks if there is a cultural responsibility, as well as the history and purpose of an institution, to consider in choosing a name ("Hippodrome's history belongs on marquee," July 31).

There seems to be a rush to buy (and sell) naming rights to established entities.

Recently in New York there was an attempt to rename the Guggenheim Museum -- in large but tasteful brass letters -- in return for a patron's multimillion-dollar gift.

New York City's Landmarks Commission killed that plan, citing the integrity of the building's design. The letters were not in Frank Lloyd Wright's original design.

Now, here in Baltimore, the France-Merrick Foundation wants (for putting up 8.3 percent of the total renovation cost) to place its name on the Hippodrome Theater. But does "the France-Merrick Theater" convey the sense of history and tradition and razzle-dazzle found in "the Hippodrome Theater"?

Kids write their names on other people's property all the time with spray paint. Is it any less an act of vandalism if a foundation writes its name with its checkbook?

Graffiti is graffiti, no matter who does it.

Elonzo Dann


Don't let Ravens use parkland

As a member of the Watershed Protection Coalition and the Greater Timonium Community Council Inc. and a taxpaying citizen of Baltimore County, I am appalled that the Baltimore County Council would approve the Ravens' use of open space purchased with taxpayers' monies ("County Council likely to OK lease of parkland to Ravens," July 31).

Catering to special interests and those whose disproportionate wealth comes from citizens sets a bad precedent for the use of open space. And Ravens officials are in the same class as officials of Enron and WorldCom -- cheating others of what is rightfully theirs.

What are the governor, other public officials and the Department of Natural Resources going to do about this situation?

Jo Owen


What happened to tax holiday?

The following states will have tax holidays during the month of August: Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. But where's Maryland? Did the tax-greedy politicians in Annapolis think last year's tax holiday was one too many for the people of this state?

Marylanders not only cross state lines to gamble but to shop in neighboring states. Would it hurt the coffers of the state to set aside just one week for tax-free shopping?

George J. Pruchniewski


Federal prosecutors aren't `out of the fray'

In the editorial "Under fire" (Aug. 6), The Sun advocates more federal firearms prosecutions because the state criminal justice system is incapable of enforcing its own stiffer gun laws.

But a careful analysis of the reasons The Sun believes the state criminal justice is ineffective reveals that increased federal firearms prosecutions are not the answer.

First, the editorial asserts that defendants are being acquitted because the state prosecutors are ineffective. This criticism is neither fair nor accurate. The uncomfortable truth is that jurors in Baltimore City are reluctant to convict.

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