When Maryland voters first decided to allow slots parlors in the state in 2008, a common argument went something like this: Come on, it’s not like they’re full-blown casinos. When we were asked to turn those slots parlors into full-blown casinos, the argument was: We might as well, we’ve already got slots parlors. So it makes sense to be skeptical when the government asks to do something just this once, for real, I swear.
Right now, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is looking to unload four out of 17 city-owned parking garages to drum up a quick $60 million. It’s money that would be used for more rec center projects like the recently opened Morrell Park Community Center. Those are things we sorely need, it seems. But should we skin the sheep instead of just continuing to shear it? Each of those parking garages brings the city $400,000 a year.
According to the Baltimore Sun, you can count Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young among the skeptical. “I would like the city not to sell them, but lease them, and not just give away the cash cow,” he said.
Middle Atlantic Parking Association president Larry J. Cohen, while urging caution, has given the city credit for “selecting facilities that wouldn’t affect the community.” But can a parking garage be worth $15 million without having some effect on the community?
One reason the sale of these four garages won’t spell parking armageddon for Baltimore, is that the newly privatized facilities will still have city-owned garages and meters to compete with. But how long before we sell those too?
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