A brighter future for West Baltimore

April 30, 2010

During this final week of April 2010, The Baltimore Sun has run several articles that I hope presage a brighter future for West Baltimore. For decades, I have traveled through this part of the city. I was born in New York City, and I've basically lived in Baltimore City since I arrived in the area in 1991. I see links between these cities, patches of Olmstead landscapes, for one, and I think New Yorkers with their eyes open would easily see vast potential in this part of town, and the very real problems too. Still, this wouldn't run off true city folk, and Baltimore's own history shows promise comes with access and jobs.

On Wednesday, your article entitled "Kaiser, federal jobs in the offing" (April 28) noted that the federal government is looking for additional office space for expansion of both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, and the Social Security Administration, SSA. Both these federal agencies now have offices in Woodlawn in Baltimore County, very close to the line dividing county and city to the west. I have been employed by CMS since it was housed in both federal and commercial space at and near SSA. This is what has kept me traveling through West Baltimore, sometimes driving, sometimes by MTA bus. As an aside, largely from a time when I could not drive after an injury, I have become quite a fan of MTA bus drivers.

On Friday, continuing several months of reporting on this project, you ran an article entitled: "Red Line doubles track plan for tunnel" (April 30). This project, once completed, will not only improve public transportation directly to CMS, SSA and nearby expansions, but also allow much easier access to the nearby West Baltimore Route 40-Edmondson Avenue corridor.

Here is where I offer my personal opinion. I am in no way involved in my employer's expansion plans, which I learn about from The Sun, not my employer. In finding office space, I hope the federal government will consider that they could be the first employer positioned to use the Red Line and help the area it passes through. I'm remembering how I've read that rowhouse communities spread out from the Harbor and downtown Baltimore as roads were developed, which allowed access to existing employment from a greater area. I'm thinking too of the federal decision, decades ago, to place SSA on its current Woodlawn campus, and the prosperity I believe that decision helped bring to Woodlawn. The opportunity cumulatively suggested by your articles this week is not development at the end points but the redevelopment of the route itself, passing through West Baltimore.

Elizabeth Carmody, Baltimore, MD

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