The following article first appeared in the Baltimore Sun on Aug 28, 2016:
Regarding a recent letter to the editor, we take issue with the assertion that the Mount Royal Improvement Association, the greater Bolton Hill community and other Mid Town community associations do not support the State Center redevelopment project when, only a tiny minority opposes it ("State Center is a boondoggle," Aug. 2).
While it's true that about 100 residents of Bolton Hill signed a petition opposing the proposal eight years ago, a great deal has happened since then and many of those same people now support the project.
It's also important to note that Bolton Hill is a community of nearly 2,000 residents, nearly half of whom are members of the Mt. Royal Improvement Association.
To generate the broad support that the project has earned over the years, there have been dozens of community meetings in Bolton Hill that provided updates and provisos for the State Center development.
The Mt. Royal Improvement Association used these meetings and the feedback they generated as the basis for polling its members and voicing its unanimous support of the State Center redevelopment project.
In addition to the community meetings, there were also public meetings hosted by the developer; an Economic Improvement Plan signed by the developer and the community; and a legally binding Community Benefits Agreement that was signed this year between the State Center Neighborhood Alliance Inc., and Developer State Center LLC.
The benefits agreement is the first of its kind in Baltimore and is unique even at a national level. It defines the community support and cooperation between the parties involved, and it is something that we should all be proud of.
We are not alone. All the area neighborhoods, including Seton Hill, Mt. Vernon-Belvedere and Heritage Crossing, have repeatedly voiced their support for the redevelopment project.
Now is the time, while the state and the developer are in formal mediation, for community leaders to continue to emphasize the broad public support, input and cooperation this project has enjoyed from the beginning.
The overwhelming majority of residents in the Bolton Hill Community have shown widespread support for the State Center Redevelopment project repeatedly over the last decade and they will continue to do so.
Michael Marcus, Baltimore
The writer is president of the Mount Royal Improvement Association.