Readers Speak Out

READERS SPEAK OUT

On Roland Park Assisted-living Facility

December 23, 2008

The Baltimore Sun's editorial "Tie-breaker" (Dec. 15) rightly notes the stalemate between the Roland Park community and the Baltimore Country Club on the Keswick Multi-Care Center's plan to build an assisted-living facility on land that now belongs to the country club.

This stalemate is an opportunity for the city to take a leadership role in moving the project out of Roland Park and into another area in the city that is in need of redevelopment.

There is no need to destroy green space to build such a center when there are so many sites throughout the city, including near Roland Park, that are in need of redevelopment.

Reinvesting in these blighted areas would revitalize communities, take the development pressures off open space and protect the environment.

Heather MacGregor, Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun's editorial on the dispute over the Baltimore Country Club's land in Roland Park omits a key fact: Under current zoning, use of the land for senior housing or nursing care is prohibited.

The full City Council would have to vote to override this protection by approving a planned unit development (PUD) plan before potential buyer, the Keswick Multi-Care Center, could build an assisted-living facility of any size on the land.

The community has spoken with a loud voice, over months, in making the point that it does not want that land shorn of its R-1 residential zoning protection.

That means we can support no Keswick project of any size or character.

Peter Grief, Baltimore

I was surprised at the tone of the editorial "Tie-breaker."

As one of hundreds who attended the community meeting on the Keswick plan, it was clear to me that the Baltimore Country Club has little interest in compromise.

There are many legitimate concerns about this project, including problems with rezoning the area, the density of the proposed development and the traffic and emergency vehicles it would bring to the area.

Considering the way in which the BCC and the Keswick Multi-Care Center have handled themselves in regard to the community's concerns about this project to date, I have very little faith that these issues would be honorably addressed in any future compromise.

Joan Dolina, Baltimore

Like many Roland Park residents, my household has carefully followed The Baltimore Sun's coverage of the Baltimore Country Club's controversial land sale to the Keswick Group for a continuing care retirement community.

The community's position has been explained repeatedly - we oppose the plan because it threatens the historic integrity of the neighborhood and would have a negative environmental impact, increase traffic, strain an antiquated and currently insufficient sewer system and set a dangerous precedent for further rezoning or PUD efforts.

Still the community's position seems to be undervalued.

Mayor Sheila Dixon has objected to the current plan proposed by Keswick but urges compromise between the parties. This message was reiterated in the editorial "Tie-breaker."

However, compromise between Keswick's plan and the community's position is just not possible.

Compromise is not possible because the neighborhood's concerns go far beyond not wanting to hear more ambulances or delivery trucks. It is not possible because this property, although privately owned, is part of a carefully and masterfully designed community.

Frederick Law Olmsted was America's first landscape architect. His vision, as conveyed by his sons and the other planners of Roland Park, was to make cities livable by maintaining a piece of the natural world in which we can escape the stress of life and find some harmony.

A Leonardo da Vinci painting would not have the same worth if it were sliced into postage-sized bits and distributed so that everyone could have a share.

If you dramatically alter one segment of Roland Park, you catastrophically change the historical design of Roland Park's master architects.

BCC's surplus property is not just undeveloped land; it provides the green vista that is the heart of the neighborhood.

Amy Lutzky, Baltimore

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