Letters to the editor for 8/21

August 21, 2002

The Herald-Mail's ice cream tasters missed city's best

To the editor:

I do not own a restaurant, have no interest in owning a restaurant, and have no close friends who own a restaurant. I just like to eat.

Eating comes naturally to me. The better the food, the more I like to eat. My wife says I eat too much. She's right.

The one thing I love to eat is ice cream. I'll eat ice cream with anything, including more ice cream please. In fact if you are what you eat, I'm probably cold, green and crunchy.


That's why I was surprised to read The Herald-Mail's article on ice cream. Although the reporters apparently ate enough ice cream to sink a ship, they did not discover the one ice cream that makes everything else plain vanilla. (By the way, I love plain vanilla, too.)

The best ice cream on the planet (and I'm working on tasting all of it) is located in downtown Hagerstown. It's a well kept secret, and it isn't even at an ice cream shop.

You can get it on West Washington Street, just before Public Square, in a first-class restaurant called Roccoco.

The ice cream is made meticulously from scratch by loving hands right on the premises. There are no short cuts.

The ice cream is made slowly and deliberately. The ingredients are fresh. There are no factory-made mixes or pre-packaged stuff put into this ice cream. It is so good that if you died and went to heaven, this would be it.

Roccoco is priced a lot like other fine restaurants in the area - like Airport Inn just outside Hagerstown or Bruno's in Chambersburg. The food quality is superb, but the ice cream is to die for.

Perhaps someday when The Herald-Mail's ice cream sampling reporters get inside the pearly gates, they'll have the heavenly pleasure of eating the perfect ice cream. In the meantime, I'd recommend Roccoco.

My wife says someday they'll wheel me out of that place with a smile on my face, a spoon in my mouth, and Roccoco ice cream on my lips and running down my chin. What a way to go!

William A. Gindlesperger

Chambersburg, PA

Better options than inspections open to Hagerstown

To the editor:

Dear Mr. Mayor and Councilmembers

A few weeks ago a rental licensing program was presented to the City Council. Since then many arguments pro and con have been discussed by citizens of Hagerstown, landlords, the mayor and councilmembers, and editors of the newspaper. The Landlord's Association continues to oppose any type of rental registration or licensing program for several reasons.

First of all, we question the purpose and intent of the proposed program. If it is to make the city more presentable, this is happening now.

According to the code enforcers, several hundred paint compliance citations have been issued and buildings are being painted and improved. If it is to improve interior living conditions, step by step procedures are in place to deal with offenders.

This is why code enforcers and the Landlord's Association worked diligently for several months to develop the Habitual Offender's Program. A few months ago code enforcers, landlords, the mayor and councilmembers felt this was a good program that would address the problems at hand.

They felt this was a program better and more effective than a registration program. What has changed? Why are we trying to emulate Rockville, Cumberland, Annapolis and other cities with rental programs, when we have a better approach in place?

There is another question that surfaces regarding rental inspections. Do inspectors violate tenants' rights by forcing their way into the privacy of their homes? This could bring legal disputes. Procedures are in place for tenants to register complaints if problems exist in their homes. If a problem exists, a tenant can place his rent in an escrow account at the District Court until the problem is corrected.

As Mr. Lestitian mentioned in his presentation of the licensing program, landlords have a fear of rental licensing and inspections. This fear, of course, is of the unknown. The $45 registration fee is small compared to potential costs as the result of an inspection by a code enforcer strictly following the BOCA codebook.

For example, recently a city landlord was forced to shut down a rental unit by a code enforcer because BOCA says a ceiling must be at least seven feet high. This ceiling was 6-foot-8 inches and the rental unit was in good condition. It cost the landlord $3,500 in lost rent and attorney fees to have the unit reinstated by the Technical Appeals Board.

Landlords are not hiding problems by opposing the program. Most landlords do care about the condition of properties in the city. To the responsible landlord, it seems to be one more fee and inconvenience to deal with. The code officials know where the problems are. Why not use the Habitual Offender Program to deal with these problems? It is a targeted approach and does not punish the landlords who are maintaining clean, healthy, safe and comfortable housing for their tenants.

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