Letters To The Editor


October 07, 2006

Garages help boost the city's vitality

Jane Jacobs, the famed urban planner cited by Klaus Philipsen in "Parking-garage glut sucks the life out of the city" (Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 29), once observed wisely that it is "feet on the street" that make a neighborhood alive, vibrant and safe.

Over the past seven years, downtown Baltimore has welcomed a net increase of approximately 6,600 residents. In 2005, downtown also experienced a 6.8 percent expansion in employment over the total for the prior year, hitting the 100,000-employee mark.

With more people on the street, downtown is becoming a sought-after destination. And retailers are starting to take notice, ensuring downtown's conversion to a full-fledged, multi-faceted neighborhood.

Many of these new residents have moved into historic buildings, saving as many as 28 structures from a potential date with a wrecking ball.

An overwhelming majority of these residents come with cars.

In an ideal world, we agree that it would be better for downtown not to be so car-dependent. However, in reality, downtown lacks a comprehensive public transit system and will have to wait years for the proposed Red Line to be built.

In the meantime, we need to ensure that downtown continues to thrive.

If employers and residents are turned off by an absence of parking and retreat to the suburbs, downtown will suffer.

Nobody wants to wake up to a headline that reads, "Major corporation, with 600 employees, leaves downtown due to inadequate parking."

We believe that Mr. Philipsen misplaces his frustration, complaining about the symptom rather than the disease. His focus should be the lack of adequate public transit in the region, not the construction of parking garages.

In general, we should all be advocating more public funding of transit and, in particular, for a renewal of state funding of the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) buses. The DASH buses served to help circulate people throughout downtown for three years, transporting people from outlying parking lots into downtown, until state funding was discontinued in 2005.

Also, we should all support the city Parking Authority's innovative plans to reduce car dependency, such as its proposed car-sharing programs and an initiative aimed at promoting car-pooling for users of city-owned parking facilities.

As for the design of parking garages, we agree that such structures, whenever possible, ought to be tucked away in the center of blocks and wrapped with retail, residential or office uses.

However, given the density of buildings in downtown, it is not always possible to situate a parking garage in the middle of a block.

In those cases, we urge architects to design garages that are attractive and maintain an active street presence with retail and other uses, particularly at street corners.

M. J. Brodie

Kirby Fowler Peter Little Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the president of the Downtown Partnership and the executive director of the city Parking Authority.

Neighbors bothered by Little Italy soiree

As a Little Italy resident who has signs for neither Martin O'Malley nor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. on my house, I take umbrage at Terry Lee Coffman Sr.'s pronouncement that only Ehrlich supporters were upset about the Friday night dance party held at his restaurant Sept. 22 ("Liquor board declines transfer of license," Sept. 29).

I live just two doors down from the restaurant. The last thing on my mind at 2 a.m. on a Friday night that found security people posted on two corners of the intersection of High and Stiles streets - spitting distance from my upstairs window - and a horde of loud, raucous patrons running amok through the neighborhood after leaving the Coffmans' dance party, with craps games being played on front stoops and public urination soiling our well-tended streets, is gubernatorial candidates.

And the last thing on my mind at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning when two loud, obviously drunk patrons are disturbing the peace by screaming as if they are in a contest for a horror movie role is gubernatorial candidates.

Honestly, I don't give a hoot whom the Coffmans support. This is, after all, a democracy.

I do care about their disregard for area residents - many of whom can trace their heritage and ancestors in Little Italy for nearly a century.

And I do care about their disingenuousness regarding their intentions for a site that has existed peacefully with the neighbors for almost 60 years.

How dare they imply that residents are so stupid as to misunderstand or purposefully misrepresent the effects of a party at their establishment?

How arrogant is that?

Rosalia Scalia


Don't blame Bush, guns for the carnage

The writer of the letter "Culture of violence leads to shooting" (Oct. 4) criticizes President Bush for doing little after the school shooting in Pennsylvania on Monday.

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