Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 19, 2003

Rental deal offers museum lease on life

The Sun's headline "For school, city rents back a $1 museum for $540,000" (March 15) was misleading. The city will rent back a $1 building with millions of dollars of lease-hold improvements. And the rent is $360,000.

The Sun's article concerns the proposed magnet school in Port Discovery's Market Place facility, a building the city leases to Port Discovery for $1 a year. According to The Sun, "others harshly criticize the terms, saying it is inconceivable that taxpayers should have to pay $360,000 a year in rent and $180,000 in operating costs for space that is already theirs."

But is it "inconceivable" for a school to pay its electricity, heat and air conditioning costs? The rent - a bargain for the school system - is a return on Port Discovery's heavy investment in the building.

I am a board member of Port Discovery, one of the pioneers who wanted to bring a children's museum to downtown Baltimore. Back in 1995, the commercial development in the area had dramatically foundered. The Brokerage was broke, with only a few stores hanging on. The shiny new bars and nightclubs in the Fish Market had closed after only a year or so; the building was abandoned and in total disrepair.

The community goals were to build a world-class children's museum and to spur development in the area. We invested $32 million in the building and exhibits, and we succeeded in meeting both goals.

However, like many pioneers, we have arrows in our backs. Developer David Cordish followed us into the area and developed the Brokerage into Power Plant Live; he now opposes a school next to his development.

We at Port Discovery have made mistakes; we have lost money every year (we receive no direct operating help from the city, unlike most museums). At this point, we believe we can solve the problems, but only if we can rent part of our building and use the rent to support the museum.

We have made changes in our programs and, as part of our move into a smaller space, we will refresh our exhibits and reduce our costs. We have stabilized our attendance in a difficult environment.

The question is: Will we be given a chance?

John W. Sasser

Baltimore

Rejoice in return of Elizabeth Smart

Why would columnist Susan Reimer feel compelled to cast a pessimistic shadow over the joyous return of Elizabeth Smart to her family ("Coming home is just first step to being home," March 14)?

We are all painfully aware of the horrors Elizabeth may have suffered. And of course she has been "changed in some fearful way by this ordeal." We do not need anyone to tell us that.

But please, instead of speculating about what Elizabeth's kidnappers may have done to "twist her mind or violate her body," let's take a moment to simply rejoice in the grace of her life.

Ed and Lois Smart have their daughter back, and Ms. Reimer asks, "But who is she now?"

She is, as always, their lovely daughter.

Eileen Shryock

Catonsville

Easing limits adds to stress on crabs

I am deeply disappointed, but not surprised, by the Ehrlich administration's decision to ease the crabbing restrictions set jointly by Virginia and Maryland through an agreement ("State to loosen limits on crabbing," March 14).

Unfortunately, this action may quicken the crab population's demise, along with that of the crabbers.

I hope that all the environmentalists who may have voted for Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. last year now regret their decision.

I hope Maryland's crab population and the environment can weather his short-sighted, ill-conceived miscalculations.

Thomas E. Quirk

Catonsville

Bush must handle mess Clinton left

The Democrats have quite some nerve criticizing President Bush's handling of foreign affairs. Bill Clinton was asleep at the switch for eight years, and now President Bush and his team have to clean up the mess they have inherited.

Mr. Clinton negotiated a silly and naive deal with North Korea regarding its nuclear reactors. He let al-Qaida off the hook after launching a few cruise missiles. In 1998, after another meaningless cruise missile attack, Mr. Clinton also washed his hands of Saddam Hussein and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Now we have had 3,000 civilians murdered by al-Qaida, we face a nuclear-armed North Korea and we are forced to go to war with Mr. Hussein.

We are fortunate to finally have a president willing to take the forceful measures required.

The Democrats should hang their heads in shame over the performance of their man, Bill Clinton.

Tony Dean

Perry Hall

Americans owe French an apology

Amidst all the hilarity over "freedom fries," are many Americans appreciative and grateful to France for the independence and integrity shown at the United Nations?

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