City lacks a sense of community

Written by on October 26, 2011 in Baltimore Voices - No comments

To the Editor, The Guide:

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All the “Occupy” gatherings around the country need focus, and the effort at McKeldin Square is another example (Guide, “A Few Odds and Ends for Consideration, Oct. 12). There’s so much protest, but no solutions for the rage have been put on the table.

Although I’m not in the job market at this time, I understand the anger. So many young people have graduated from college after “doing all the right things” only to discover they’re seriously in debt with no adequate job offers on the horizon. I don’t blame them for being frustrated.

I also condemn the infuriating disparity of wealth that’s dividing our nation and might eventually eliminate the American middle class altogether. The obscene bonuses and the outrageous salaries allotted to a few—many of whom are responsible for the current economic debacle—makes me want to join the Occupy Wall Street movement. Let the protests continue—I’m looking forward to a leader showing up with a position statement and list of demands. They need a message, and so far, I have not heard one that makes sense.

Regarding your comments on the subject of the Inner Harbor Development tax abatements, I do not fault the city for this largesse. I’ve lived in the Harbor East area for over twenty years and am delighted to have witnessed the incredible Baltimore renaissance, thanks to all the new construction in my neighborhood. When we moved here, there were few amenities; and except for tourists visiting attraction in the Inner Harbor proper, the community was small and unremarkable.

Now the location is a huge success and, I believe, eventually will be an engine for tax revenue. Take a look at the property taxes collected on residential condos, for example. And let’s not forget the shops, restaurants, health clubs and other businesses that have moved here in the past twenty years. Baltimore has benefited mightily thanks to the Inner Harbor development, and if it took serious tax breaks to achieve this, to me it has been worth the price.

What the downtown waterfront residential and business area needs is a sense of community. Since 2003 I’ve published The Inner Harbor Network, a listing of events within walking distance of the Aquarium.

Sadly, so much is happening here that is exciting and positive, yet receives little or no publicity. There also are no community organizations and communication between residents and businesses is non-existent. The city did have a Neighborhood Ambassador program under former Mayor Sheila Dixon, but it was abandoned when the new administration took office. This was the beginning of a Harbor East action group and I was enthusiastically on board.

The people of Baltimore have difficulty cooperating with one another. Harbor East is a perfect example. There are no “town hall” meetings in the area, and unless you are a resident of a specific neighborhood, say Little Italy or Federal Hill, getting involved with local issues is impossible. I know, for years I’ve tried to find out when Little Italy is having its monthly community meeting, but because I live one block away, I am persona non grata.

The Inner Harbor is the “jewel in the crown” of Charm City! The people who live here, own property here and work here should take this into account and show some community spirit.

To date, I have not seen it happen.

Many thanks for this opportunity to express my views about both Occupy Baltimore and Harbor East. I’d love to talk to you about what I have been doing to improve the area for the past eight years and how efforts like mine are so often discouraging, expensive and receive little or no community support. Baltimore can do better!

Rosalind Heid
Harbor East

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