Letters to the Editor - Sept. 12

September 12, 2011

Hagerstown could learn something from Sweden

To the editor:

Hagerstown is not the only community that is grappling with the fates of their center cities. The following is an excerpt from my Swedish hometown newspaper, Helsingborgs Dagblad, that might contain some hints to apply to our own particular situation in Hagerstown.

Fredrik Kolterjahn, a senior analyst who does much work analyzing shopping malls, was interviewed on the effects of malls on center city retail.

Helsingborgs Dagblad: It is often stated that shopping malls kill center cities. But they never die.

Kolterjahn: That is a good observation. It is not a given that a mall kills center city retail. On the contrary, it is possible for city retail to offer things that complement the mall retail offerings, and vice versa. They often have the same customers, but they have different reasons for going to the mall or to the city. On weekends, they go to shops in the city, have a sit-down snack, go for a promenade “on the town.” And in the afternoons, in the middle of the week, the customers go to the mall because it is quick and easy. There are examples where malls have negatively affected center cities, but it doesn’t have to be like that if the city retailers are quick to react. The classic example is Jönköping, which had a well-developed center city trade; then the A6 (highway) was built nearby. That affected the center city in a very negative way, but after a period of hard work, the center city retailers came back.  

Helsingborgs Dagblad: Are there center cities that have died?

Kolterjahn: Eda County, near the Norwegian border, did not have excellent trade. So when the Charlottenberg shopping center was opened and the (state-controlled) wine and liquor store was relocated, the northern part of the center city retail promenade died. ... A big advantage of the shopping malls is that they have common and clear hours of operation. In a shopping mall, a single property manager contractually determines what the operating hours are; in a center city there are, perhaps, 200 to 300 property managers or landlords. When the center city retailers keep all kinds of different hours, they contribute to a lack of clarity that affects the customers’ choice of retail location.

Magnus Dahlgren

New football organization shows courage

To the editor:

It takes great courage and tremendous effort to break off from an established organization and try something new. This is what a handful of coaches did this year when they launched the Hagerstown Youth Football & Athletic Association (HYFAA). Their mission was to challenge the status quo, and to create better opportunities for our children and advance the sport of football within Washington County. I personally applaud their efforts and am proud to be one of hundreds of parents who took advantage of this great opportunity.

The decision to switch leagues was an easy one. HYFAA tightly integrates teams with their respective schools, giving children years of experience in the system before reaching high school. They provide year-round training and conditioning overseen by high school coaches and trainers. They have a commitment to excellence through which grades and athletic performance are equal. They teach our children to be model citizens on and off the field. In short, the HYFAA creates an atmosphere that prepares our children for life.

As with anything new, there are those who feel threatened by change. There are plenty of naysayers who continuously voice their hollow rhetoric that the league will never survive, citing its use of high school rules as a detriment. They feel that the “no play” rule and educational requirements will send children back to the other league in droves and that playing the “stronger” teams in Frederick County will only demoralize the children. Using this same logic, the detractors seem content with a league where everyone has to play regardless of skill level, effort put forth, or even if the kids bother showing up for practice — that football is more important than education; that when faced with adversity, one should take the easy road. This is not the character I wish to build within my children. The sooner that our children learn that life is challenging and the sooner we give them the tools to succeed the better.

I would rather challenge my son to achieve excellence than to fall back on the status quo and accept mediocrity.

Thank you to all of those who made the HYFAA possible. Go Rebels!

David Downes

Town, county must make recycling a priority

To the editor:

Until we moved to Boonsboro from Brunswick five years ago, my wife, Nancy, and I never dreamed recycling could actually be controversial. In Brunswick, it worked great to have trash pick-up once a week and curbside recycling once a week. We were quite surprised to find Boonsboro had twice-a-week trash pick-up and made so little effort to put in place a quality recycling program.

Nancy and I both grew up on Shenandoah Valley farms with parents who lived through the Great Depression. I learned from childhood the down-home value of “waste not, want not.” It has always been difficult to accept we live in a throw-away society. Recycling of everything possible seems like such a common-sense American value, it’s hard to grasp why everyone doesn’t see it this way.

My faith in God and my rural roots give me a love of the outdoors and great appreciation for God’s wonderful creation. So doing anything possible to take care of our environment seems like a no brainer; things like planting native trees and shrubs, driving fuel-efficient cars and never throwing anything in the trash that can go in a recycling bin.

It is time for all of us to do our part and make recycling a priority in Boonsboro and Washington County.

Roland England

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