Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 31, 2006

Razing the rectory will boost school

The Sun's article on the demolition of the rectory at St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church was, to be charitable, one-sided ("Fells Point rectory demolished," July 25).

The real story is that certain board members at Mother Seton Academy, a no-tuition Catholic-sponsored school which educates underprivileged middle-schoolers, have committed their own cash and credit to ensure that the profits from developing the site for high-end townhomes go to the school rather than to private developers.

Because of the value of the site, there was never any question that it would be improved with high-end residences.

But as to the historic preservation issue, the developer met with all local preservation stakeholders and was led to believe there would be no objection to the townhouse plan -- which is a less dense re-use of the site than zoning allowed -- provided only that a certain faM-gade from the original friary was not demolished.

The apparent change of heart by some of the participants in those community meetings notwithstanding, the buyer intends to incorporate that facade into the final plans.

As to the balance of the friary buildings, reputable architects advised the developer that they were pretty "plain Jane" and therefore not worth the effort and cost to preserve.

The bottom line? Efforts to redevelop the friary property reflect a responsible attention to the density and preservation issues raised in community meetings. And every dime the developer makes on this project will be used to construct a new building for Mother Seton's middle schoolers.

Oh, and for the billionth time, there never was and never will be a plan to demolish the church building.

To the cry that seems to bellow from every throat in Fells Point these days, "Save St. Stans," the proper response is: "St. Stans lives! Long live Mother Seton!"

David Borinsky

Baltimore

The writer is an attorney for Iron Horse Properties LLC, the developer of the property, and a member of the board of the Mother Seton Academy.

Rochambeau can be part of the solution

A visit to Baltimore on a recent weekend reminded me that it has one of the nation's largest, best preserved downtowns.

So how sad it is that the Archdiocese of Baltimore seeks to demolish the handsome, 100-year-old Rochambeau apartment building to build a prayer garden adjacent to the Basilica of the Assumption ("Groups fight for Rochambeau," July 22).

And The Sun's Sunday feature article on "The Coming Housing Crunch" (July 23) amplified the illogic of demolition.

The Baltimore area faces a shortage of homes, the article reported. So why don't the city and the Archdiocese update the Rochambeau to help house the metropolitan area's growing population?

Razing the Rochambeau doesn't stand a prayer of succeeding as well as it would to update this grand old contributor to Baltimore's beauty into much-needed housing.

Allen Kratz

Hoboken, N.J.

Hot housing market a mixed blessing

As a city resident, I am happy to see unprecedented growth in the city's housing market ("Gap gives city its chance," July 25). However, this comes as a mixed blessing.

One only has to walk through one of the "hot" neighborhoods like Canton to observe that the once pleasant rhythm of brick, marble and formstone two-story rowhouses is being defiled by the vulgar additions of third and fourth floors, roof decks and cheap, out-of-scale windows and vinyl siding.

Growth is fine but the city should impose design standards for construction and renovation that today's developers seem to be sorely lacking.

If the designers and builders of the famous Baltimore rowhouses could do it right for so many years, why can't today's developers follow suit?

Daniel Kuc

Baltimore

A new nickname for Senate hopeful?

Since Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele seems to be waffling back and forth over whether he supports President Bush ("Steele pressed for answers," July 28), may I suggest this moniker for him this election season, "The Steele Waffle."

He could even hand out little metal pins that look like waffles.

Or maybe his Democratic opponent could do that for him.

William Smith

Baltimore

The cost of college is out of control

While much has been said about financial aid for college, little has been said about reining-in skyrocketing tuition costs, which continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation ("College aid emerges as campaign focus," July 23). This situation is not, to use a favorite liberal buzzword, "sustainable."

Our education system in general, and higher education in particular, has been an abject failure at cost control.

Indeed, the concept of cost control in education is anathema, as academia mistakenly equates expenditure with excellence.

Today's students are forced to foot the bill for bloated campus bureaucracies, professors who teach less-than-full class schedules, politically correct curricula of questionable value and the operation of sports programs that are, in effect, farm systems of the NFL and NBA, to name just a few things.

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