Smith Island claims sound too good to be true

July 09, 2013

I don't begrudge Smith Islanders trying to preserve their way of life in their appeal to your readership for the public to fund, in the words of Smith Island United, "the cost of these huge projects" ("Demise of Smith Island is far from inevitable," July 7). And why not if the state only has to pony up 25 percent on the project as was claimed? But I question whether that 75/25 federal and state contribution still holds true. I also question whether it will do any good, given some of the maps I've seen on sea levels rises in the Chesapeake Bay region.

When I was last on Tylerton, I was told that island has 58 full-time residents. I don't imagine Rhodes Point or Ewell have many more. These proposed "huge projects" might benefit perhaps 200 people by allowing them to retain their idyllic existence. In contrast, the building of the Red Line in Baltimore should benefit close to a million people and unfortunately suffers from a 50/50 federal and state startup ratio, a lot lower state contribution than the cost of restoring Poplar Island in 1998. And in comparison to Smith Islanders fighting the sea, every indication is that more public transit would work well, create jobs and help everyone in the Baltimore area (including the single vehicle commuters who will see their traffic snarls abated).

I'd like to know what the current federal and state contribution ratio would be and what is the total cost. It would be completely insane if the price of restoring Smith Island requires a lower state contribution than the Red Line.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

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