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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Clear Choices in Prince George's County: Strip Mall or...?

Gazette staff and HPC Commissioner Thompson,

I hope the Gazette editorial page and Greg Holzheimer give coverage to the issue that Commissioner Thompson has kicked into the public arena with his blogsite editorial “PG 79-63 A Potential Historic District for Upper Marlboro.” It merits wider discussion, and the Gazette provides an excellent forum.

There’s a very clear choice facing Upper Marlboro residents. And Thompson points out that the decision is not between doing nothing or developing another commercial strip akin to Alexandria’s nightmarish Rt. 1 corridor. Upper Marlboro could seek historic district designation.

Colonial Williamsburg, for example, is a model for Upper Marlboro. Their planning decisions demonstrate how massive new commercial, housing and other development can enhance and be inspired by a designated historic district. Thompson boldly points out that some prominent locals who oppose historic district designation have privately stated their intention to rezone their land, then “sell and get out of town.” John Peter makes a highly controversial point – it reminds me of chap who shouts out the obvious point in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” And Thompson’s shout should make good newsprint. He’s sadly correct when he challenges the genuineness of tears being shed by some local preservationists who nonetheless intend to destroy the treasures in their stewardship. They must be reminded of their moral obligation to save the archeological and architectural gems left to us by earlier residents of this County.

I don’t know why this point needs to me be made, but it does: Although it’s the “Upper Marlboro way,” the fact that some of these historic properties were built by ancestors of the current owners doesn’t legitimize their decisions to build strip malls atop them. It makes their decisions more embarrassing.

A balanced solution: Upper Marlboro residents must discern a middle ground between the obligations to one’s community, and a crass interpretation of one’s individual property rights. A balance can be found. Establishing a historic district with it’s Local Advisory Committee (LAC) in greater Upper Marlboro could provide those communities with a review board that ensures future new growth is not just a “quality dollar maker” for the developer, but also a quality, aesthetic addition that enhances your tremendous historic heritage.

Any editorial, and the article by Greg, might put Upper Marlboro’s historic district proposal in context. There are a number of other County areas that are aggressively trying to designate themselves as historic districts. This is the latest wrinkle in the campaign by our Historic Preservation Commission and the rapidly emerging preservation constituency to improve the County’s long-term future. Prince George’s can become the Washington region’s “preferred living environment” among its neighboring jurisdictions. But not by building more schlock like Fairfax County’s Route 1 corridor.

Dave Turner

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