Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

December 08, 2007

For more than a decade now, my family, friends and I have been traveling from Baltimore and from as far away as Pittsburgh to enjoy the natural beauty of our Appalachian forests in Western Maryland.

We have spent much time and money in and around Garrett County, and greatly prize the opportunity to still find pristine, unspoiled old-growth forests so near to home.

Thus, it was with great dismay that I read about the wind farms proposed for some of Maryland's most striking landscapes ("State forests sought for wind farms," Dec. 6).

While I am well aware of Maryland's energy needs and the importance of cleaner energy sources, the minimal energy gain these wind farms would provide would not outweigh the tragedy of the destruction of some of the most impressive land in Maryland for the benefit of out-of-state, private, for-profit companies.

I sincerely hope Gov. Martin O'Malley, the Board of Public Works and the Department of Natural Resources won't sell out our public lands.

Sean Hall

Baltimore

Wait a minute. Did I read this right? In Thursday morning's Sun, there was an article about a Pennsylvania-based company that wants to lease 400 acres of state forests for wind farms.

Yet in another paper that same morning, I read a blurb about the Maryland and Virginia governors pledging to save thousands of acres of forests to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

And didn't then-gubernatorial candidate Martin O'Malley blast the Ehrlich administration for trying to sell off state forests to politically connected developers?

State forests, parks and wildlife sanctuaries are for the public - not to be used for private, out-of-state companies to reap windfall profits (pun intended).

Instead of putting these industrial machines in Western Maryland, why not put them closer to where most of their potential customers are?

I suggest putting some windmills on Oregon Ridge or Federal Hill.

Stephen G. Gunnulfsen

Laytonsville

Residential centers play a critical role

In The Sun's article "State threatens Rosewood center again" (Dec. 1), John M. Colmers, Maryland's secretary of health and mental hygiene, notes that a decision on the future of Rosewood is "not a simple matter."

The courts and the families of state residential center residents in Maryland agree.

In its 1999 Olmsted ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States reinforced the right of choice for disabled adults. Closing state residential centers would diminish that choice.

The court's decision supports institutional care for those who are best supported by the close care and monitoring found in that kind of setting.

People who call Rosewood and the state's other residential care centers their homes are not locked away in isolation. Many go shopping, to church, to dances, on trips, out to eat, to jobs and to life-skills classes, if they are able.

Some groups claim that all mentally disabled adults can and must live in community homes. But group home placement isn't for everyone.

And it's illogical to maintain that the state is better equipped to respond to problems in 1,000 group homes than in its own four residential care facilities.

As concerned family members, who are pleased to see our loved ones thrive at a Maryland residential center, we hope to see many options for quality care available, with state residential centers remaining a vital part of the mix.

Linda Scherer Catonsville

Glenn Brown Hyattsville

The writers have relatives who are residents of the Holly Center and the Rosewood Center, respectively. The letter was signed by family members of three other residents of state care facilities.

Courthouse remains key city landmark

It is distressing to read once again that the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse is "infested with rats" ("Just sitting pretty, awaiting his cue," Dec. 5). It is distressing not because the courthouse is infested - it is not - but because that is often all that is said of the building, usually in the context of an argument for demolishing the courthouse and building a new one.

First, the rats.

Infested means swarming or overrun. I have been in the courthouse many times over the years as a reporter, juror and general observer, and I have never seen a rat.

I don't doubt there are some rats there, as there are in many buildings downtown and elsewhere. But demolition contractors don't get rid of rats, as Jane Jacobs pointed out many years ago - exterminators do.

The courthouse, which anchors the west end of Baltimore's civic complex, is Baltimore's finest public building.

Its Second Renaissance Revival exterior is architecturally distinguished, and the interior contains unusually handsome and unique courtrooms and other spaces and many artworks, including murals by Edwin H. Blashfield and John LaFarge.

Most people realize that we will not see its like again.

The courthouse has the problems of all century-old buildings that must adapt to current uses. But the main one isn't rats -- it's the lack of funds to properly restore one of Baltimore's major landmarks.

James D. Dilts

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