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HDC Chairman Responds To News Coverage

March 8, 2002

(From The Tentacle Editor: The letter below is a copy of an original Letter To The Editor of The Frederick News-Post by Daniel Lawton, chairman of The Frederick Town Historic District Commission. The underlined and italicized portions were edited out of the letter by the News-Post. Both the News-Post and The Tentacle reserve the right to edit Letters sent to it for publication. Mr. Lawton has provided The Tentacle with permission to publish his letter in full.)

To the Editor:

The old adage that you can’t believe everything you read in the paper has certainly been proven this past week. Steve Miller’s front-page article from Tuesday, February 19th “HDC puts brakes on demolition of downtown garage” is full of inflammatory accusations yet strikingly devoid of accurate reporting. The garages at 29 E. Fifth St. do not block access to the rest of the property as stated, nor does their existence prevent the continuation or improvement of off-street parking. It seems that Mr. Miller and his editor think it will sell more newspapers if he portrays the HDC as being against needed parking, but that is simply not true.

Nearly all demolition requests that come before the Frederick Town Historic District Commission require a sequence of two hearings before approval or denial may occur. At the February hearing, the HDC reviewed the case, heard from the applicant, and had some discussion about whether the garages in question were potentially significant. Then, we correctly determined that under our own guidelines and those written by the Secretary of Interior of the National Park Service, this garage deserved a second hearing before demolition could proceed. Contrary to what Mr. Miller’s headline and photo-caption imply, no vote was taken and no decision was reached. That will happen at our March hearing.

I am aware that many citizens think it silly to even think of saving an old garage, while others believe that all structures in the historic district help contribute to our architectural history. We welcome this debate at the HDC, and I invite all interested persons from both sides of the issue to come to City Hall on March 14th at 7:00 p.m. and let us know your views.

Whether or not this particular garage merits saving remains to be seen. I do know that the writer of the editorial in the Frederick Post on Friday February 22nd is gravely misinformed when he or she suggests that only the Francis Scott Key Hotel or homes on Record Street are worthy of preservation. What a slap in the face to the hundreds of owners in the historic district whose properties may only be average, but nevertheless contribute significantly to the district as a whole.

The Historic District is an invaluable resource within our city that promotes tourism, enhances economic development, and increases property values, as well as improves our daily quality of life. Mr. Miller would better serve the community that buys his articles if he made a greater attempt to accurately and objectively report on the work of the HDC.

Daniel Lawton, Chairman
Frederick Town Historic District Commission


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