Community groups support State Center project

The following article first appeared in the Baltimore Sun on Aug 18, 2016:

In response to the recent letter "State Center is a boondoggle" (Aug. 2), the Seton Hill community has been at the table with eight other communities as representatives of the State Center Neighborhood Alliance and attending meetings for nearly a decade. In those meetings we vetted facts, not feelings.

We reviewed design concepts and traffic studies and negotiated an economic improvement plan and a community benefits agreement with the developer that, among other things, will ensure job opportunities for our communities. We've held social gatherings and festivals with information booths, both to answer questions and get answers for members in the community.

Calling our efforts "so-called support," as your letter writers do, does a disservice to all of our efforts.

They mention a petition that has been floated, but was that based on fact or feelings? Was it based on the traffic studies the state undertook to address congestion issues? Did it include the fact that the state will have to pay full rate property taxes on the buildings and property once they abandon them? Did it reflect the state's decades-long deferred maintenance?

Doing nothing is expensive and extremely wasteful, not to mention a breach of contracts now in place.

The state's annual cost of operating the complex in its current condition is almost the same as it would be to occupy new LEED silver state offices built to spec for their unique needs. Furthermore, there are no subsidies. The new State Center plan is 100 percent private investment, period.

Reverend Alvin Hathaway of Union Baptist Church reminds us, "before they came in and artificially changed the street patterns, this was all one community." The spirit of this project is to reunite neighborhoods, bring opportunity and improve walkability and the use of our underutilized mass transit system. It's in all of our best interests.

Bryan B. Dunn, Baltimore

Melissa Heuer