William Donald Schaefer's reign as mayor of Baltimore brought out more community activism than any other mayor before or since. I was the president of a community association and had the opportunity to work with Mayor Schaefer, who made you want to improve your neighborhood, keep it strong and make Baltimore a better city for it.
Over the years, I was appointed to many committees and task forces by Mr. Schaefer. One such committee would have had an award given to the best movies produced in Baltimore. It was to have been a red-carpet event during which a statuette made in Mr. Schaefer's likeness, named "The Donnie," would be presented. Needless to say, that never happened, and I'm not quite sure whose idea it was to begin with.
As president of The Glenham-Belford Community Association, I asked, Mark Wasserman, one of Mr. Schaefer's aides, to drive on the many streets in our neighborhood that were in dire need of repaving. They were always on the capital improvement program but constantly moved to the back burner.
As we drove over the numerous portholes, I explained to Mark that I didn't appreciate the improvements to our neighborhood being constantly shelved to make way for more politically favored projects. When we finished the ride, Mark said he would see what he could do. The following year our streets were repaved.
Burdick Park was a forgotten neighborhood hangout that hadn't been improved in many years. As chair of a committee made up of members of the surrounding communities, we brought life to that park: a new playground, tennis courts, etc., a testament to community and city agencies working together. Mr. Schaefer asked me to chair the committee to revive the business district; years of meetings with city agencies, community leaders, and business owners, finally brought the revitalization of Hamilton.
We will never see the likes of William Donald Schaefer again. He made you proud to say you were from Baltimore. He made you proud of your community, no matter where in Baltimore you lived. The residents of a neighborhood are the ones who must make it vital, but it also takes the vision of a mayor like Mr. Schaefer to keep it that way. William Donald Schaefer and those around him kept Baltimore "the best."
Lois Raimondi Munchel, Forest Hill
The writer is a former resident of Hamilton.