Middle Child Must Help Itself

There’s been an ongoing discussion about whether or not the Charles Village Community Benefits District (CVCBD) should be renewed. Its opponents raise important objections, citing especially that the CVCBD has not fulfilled its basic core responsibilities of ridding the area of “crime and grime.” Instead, over the years, it has come to focus more on promoting development, on the theory that crime and grime will necessarily lessen as the area becomes more attractive as a place to live and work.

Though there’s still more grime than we’d like to see, and not enough CVCBD personnel on the streets to deal with it, this should be a simple matter to improve, especially if the CVCBD budget is more directed to this function. Enforcing the litter laws would be another important step. As to crime, quite simply—there’s less of it now than there used to be. (Whether this is due more to CVCBD’s efforts, or to other reasons, is debatable.)

We believe CVCBD deserves one more round of special-benefits-tax funding in order to prove itself—with close oversight of the vigilant surrounding community. CVCBD’s leadership and committees must take a hard look at themselves to assure they’re in compliance with their mission and bylaws, and then need to focus on their primary responsibilities. If crime and grime are taken care of, and the area’s attractive, affordable and historic commercial and residential structures are well-maintained, development—in conformance with the area’s strong Urban Renewal Ordinance development guidelines—will take care of itself.

We’d be as happy as anyone not to have to pay additional taxes for services we should be able to expect as part of paying our city property taxes. But alas, the City of Baltimore has many other priority areas in which to allocate its limited funds (areas with higher crime and more social problems—and areas where high-end new development is occurring). Charles Village is a “middle child,” and as such, regrettably will be ignored if it does not make a special effort on its own to get what it needs.

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This story was published on June 10, 2003.