Voices From the Readers
Decision Jeopardizes Berlin's Character
Recently, the Berlin Historic Commission met to decide the fate of one of the town's oldest houses located in the South Main Street Historic District.
By voting to allow the current owner to essentially raze the Elizabeth White House, circa 1820, and 'rebuild' a 3,000-square-foot-plus structure in its place, the commission has negated the relevance of the town's historic districts that it is charged to protect. It has also rewarded the current property owner for his total neglect of the historic home. He can be free of the pesky telescope house that has until now complicated his real estate venture.
When the property was purchased several years ago, we in the neighborhood were hopeful that finally a caring steward would stabilize the structure and proceed with restoration. After all, why else would a buyer purchase such a property in a historic district if not to preserve it? All too soon it became evident that the new owner had no such intentions. Does not the responsibility of property maintenance come with ownership? Those of us who have purchased homes in the neighborhood know what is expected and do our best to preserve and maintain our properties in compliance with the Historic Commission's guidelines.
By contrast, the current owner has not so much as lifted a paintbrush in any attempt to maintain the Elizabeth White House. The home can be viewed from my property and it has been painfully obvious that not a single dime has been spent to preserve the home. Not even the damage to the house's southeast corner, sustained when the structure was mysteriously 'vandalized' on Halloween '08 (rammed by a large vehicle) has repair been attempted. Surely a responsible property owner would want to protect his investment. The damage remains to this day so such is apparently not the case. Granted, a shed behind the structure was torn down in a 'clean up' attempt, presumably to give the bulldozer easier access.
Despite all this, three of the five commissioners voted to approve the destruction of the Elizabeth White House in favor of the current owner's plan to 'replicate' the faĆ§ade and then magically 'tuck' (the petitioner's architect's word) a 2,000-plus square foot addition behind it. The resulting new structure would be then be considerably larger than most of the other homes in that part of the historic district.
One commissioner in particular practically gushed her approval of the proposal but went on to chide that whatever siding was chosen for the structure should 'not look like it came from Lowe's or Home Depot'. Much was also made of the cost of restoring the present home due to its present condition. This, it should be noted, is largely due to the owner's willful neglect of the building. It should also be noted that the Atlantic Hotel and many of the downtown Berlin buildings now listed on the National Historic Register were once considered 'tear downs'. Berlin and its economy have benefited greatly from past historic preservation.
By winning the waiting game, the current owner's risky real estate gamble turns into a sweetheart deal. The Elizabeth White House will be replaced with either an infuriatingly out-of-place sore thumb McMansion or any empty one-acre lot with a For Sale sign. Saddest of all, one of the oldest homes in Berlin - one that gives the South Main Street Historic District a special character - will be forever lost. With regards to a new structure, the Historic Commission will have the pleasure of selecting the siding.
Henry A. Koenig
Future Actions Will
Matter, Not Words
I love The Dispatch. I read it cover to cover every week,I always enjoy the letters to the editor, be it a concern, a hot topic or just an opinion, it's wonderful that we as citizens have a place to share it.
Last week a defense of ones actions was printed and titled, 'Second, Third Chance Desired' by Leroy Poole. You almost had me, that is until you played the religious card.
Where was your Lord and Savior when you allegedly committed all the acts that you are being charged with. It does not seem to me that a person with such religious and moral standards would find himself in this type of predicament to begin with,
I just had to get this off my chest because I was bothered by this sudden call to the Lord. You see it over and over, people tend to find their religion rather quickly when they are being tried for their criminal acts. I hope this person truly does find salvation and forgiveness. The list of allegations against him are frightening and our community would benefit from his reform, I'm just not buying it.
Talk is cheap and I think it will take a lot more than that to convince this community that you are a good fearing man.
Effort Sends Proper
Message For Students
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, 78 students of Pocomoke Middle School participated in the International Walk to School Day. Seventy-four students walked and four rode their bicycles. Weather conditions on that Wednesday were not optimal, (there was a light rain in the morning) but students still walked or rode their bicycles to school.
The Worcester County Highway Safety and Safe Routes to School Advisory Committees would like to take this opportunity to highly commend those students who participated. This single behavior, walking or riding their bike to and from school, adds to the student's physical well-being by providing physical activity, leading to a reduction in obesity and a reduction in the risk of developing diabetes and/or asthma.
The healthy behavior, walking or biking, also reduces the amount of fuel needed to operate cars and/or buses for transportation purposes, thus leading to less fuel consumed, due to fewer vehicles on the road, and less noxious gases being emitted. This latter benefit is both economically desirable and it adds to the preservation of a healthy environment.
To the drivers of vehicles in the vicinity of Pocomoke Middle School, the Advisory Committees also give kudos. Car and truck traffic on the streets adjacent to the school seems to automatically slow when children are walking or biking to and from the school. Pocomoke Middle School personnel verified that this driving behavior is routine, not just on special occasions like International Walk to School Day. These drivers are wonderful models for 'Sharing the Road' with bicyclists, and 'Stopping for Pedestrians' who are in crosswalks.
This International Walk to School activity was made even more special through the endorsement and cooperation of Pocomoke Middle School's administration and members of the Pocomoke Community Policing team. Staff of the school monitor children crossing the street each school day. On this particular day, members of the community-policing group, representing the Pocomoke Police Department, the Worcester County Department of Juvenile Services, the Worcester County Health Department and the Abundant Life Apostolic Church, all helped to assure the safety of the students and to especially commend the students who walked or biked.
Keep walking and biking.
(The writer is the health educator for the Worcester County Health Department.)
It's not necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but that's what Congress is doing with healthcare 'reform'.
The hundreds of millions who have satisfactory insurance will find everything put into a tailspin by the introduction of new government regulations. The uninsured and employers who don't or can't provide insurance will face fines (taxes). Those who have very good (Cadillac) insurance may be taxed for their good fortune and good employer. Will they tax the employer as well? Is healthcare a right? Is it freedom when the government can force you to buy insurance?
Now throw into the mix, a government-run option. No private company can compete with the government •' it's an uneven playing field. Will this lead to private insurers leaving the market? Instead of finding cost effective ways to include more people in the insured population, time and effort is being spent on dismantling an insurance system that covers the majority of the population.
Even if everything being considered is put into effect, there will still be tens of millions left uninsured. Congress is going to send the baby right down the drain if they don't stop and listen. There are so many questions that are not being answered and this bill is being rushed through without adequate debate. What happened to 'transparency'? This problem needs to be approached incrementally. Insurance companies need regulation, but within reason.
Laws probably need to be changed to allow the free market to address the problem, such as ones that don't allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines. Let competition lead to cost savings. Don't introduce the public option into the picture. Do we want socialized medicine? Is it working out for Massachusetts? Congress should strive to do the least damage while attempting to do good.