Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 23, 2005

Renovations imperil Mt. Vernon's future

Contrary to the charges by Connie A. Brown, Baltimore's acting director of recreation and parks, the Mount Vernon community stands strongly for access for the disabled to the Mount Vernon Place parks ("Serene city park a battleground," Dec. 14).

It is well documented that this community has supported greater access to the parks for years, and we have offered several outstanding design alternatives to accomplish this goal.

We also believe in preserving the Mount Vernon Place parks, which are a national landmark. These two goals can be accomplished together, but the city instead wants to take shortcuts that would destroy these parks.

The city wants to spend scarce dollars on the north portion of the park, which is already accessible to the handicapped.

It wants to install enormous concrete ramps that will attract every skateboarder in the city and put entrances for the disabled in the center of the park near the Washington Monument. That does not make sense to this community or to the disabled residents we have consulted extensively about the issue.

The Sun's article also failed to note that the city's plan might not conform to national standards for historic parks and, if completed, could make all of the Mount Vernon parks ineligible for future major federal, state or private preservation funding.

The parks are suffering from decades of decay and neglect by the city. Doing work that could cut off funding for their restoration could be the death knell for this beloved city asset.

The city's plan for north park does not serve the disabled. And it is likely to deny this community the chance to bring in real resources for restoration and maintenance of the parks.

For these reasons, this community stands against this poorly conceived plan and demands that the city put a halt to it immediately.

Jason Curtis

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association.

Disabled excluded from park planning

As a Mount Vernon resident, and as someone who spent two years in a wheelchair, I am outraged by the remark from a representative of the Department of Recreation and Parks that the Mount Vernon community suggested that the disabled "fend for themselves" at Mount Vernon Place ("Serene city park a battleground," Dec. 14).

As a member of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association's Architectural Review Committee, I was present when the Department of Recreation and Parks presented its plan to our community.

I specifically asked its representatives whether they had involved any disabled individuals in their planning process for better access to the parks. They said they had not.

I was shocked by this admission, and extremely disappointed that the department chose to speak for the disabled rather than involve them in the process.

Cathy McDermott

Baltimore

Equality of access more than an idea

Equal access to Mount Vernon Park is not only a reasonable action in this 21st century, it is the law ("Serene city park a battleground," Dec. 14).

Helen Schlossberg Cohen

Baltimore

The writer is a former president of Friends of Mount Vernon Place.

Ramps add barriers for some seniors

I read with interest the article about replacing the steps in Mount Vernon Place with a ramp to make the public space more accessible to the disabled ("Serene city park a battleground," Dec. 14).

Apart from the issue of historic preservation vs. access for the disabled, there is the fact that some disabled citizens are unable to use ramps.

My 90-year-old mother, for instance, finds that steps with a handrail make it much easier to navigate slopes than a ramp - which makes using a walker a clumsy and frustrating experience.

Replacing steps with ramps may help some people but could add barriers for others.

Let's think this through before we add another set of problems.

Daniel A. Koch

Baltimore

Attack on Christmas harms our heritage

I am shocked and outraged to learn from recent news reports and articles that retailers have waged a war on the use of the terms "Merry Christmas" or "Christmas" in any context ("Silent night, holy night," Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 14)

My review of commercial advertisements and newspaper advertisements appears to substantiate that inclusion of either of these terms is no longer politically correct because non-Christians may be offended.

Well, as a Christian, I am offended that my American religious heritage and traditions are being attacked.

America was founded on Christian principles and is known as a Christian nation, and the majority of its people are Christians.

When Christians reside in non-Christian nations, do those countries change their policies to keep from offending the minority? I don't think so.

Retailers want to profit from the Christmas celebration without acknowledging the holiday.

This war on "Christmas" does not affect my faith or the way I will celebrate the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

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