Letters: BWI contract award a triumph; readers differ about behavior at Quiet Waters meeting

Published 1/29/2023 6:00 a.m. EST

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 22:  Passengers walk through a terminal at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on December 22, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Decision on BWI contract achieves goals on inclusion, local business

In May of last year, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) issued a request for proposal for the management of concessions at the airport. In November, after an exhaustive process, BWI/MAA recommended New Market Development (NMD), a Maryland-based, minority-owned business for the award. It is known formally as the non-exclusive right to redevelop, renovate, lease and manage the retail, restaurant and commercial services at BWI Marshall Airport. Earlier this month, one of the competitors filed a lawsuit to halt the process prior to its completion.

This selection is important because the concessions manager at BWI Marshall conducts outreach for candidate businesses and serves as the primary gatekeeper for retail and restaurant operations that seek to do business at the airport. Of the four responding bidders, three were large international firms with subsidiaries here in the United States. NMD is composed of longtime, locally based industry executives with decades of experience at the airport. The larger NMD team is made up of architects, contractors and vendors who are similarly Maryand-based, minority-owned firms. The agency should be congratulated for recommending a local firm that understands our communities and our values, as well as our challenges and opportunities.

The lawsuit filed was all too familiar. It was an affront to the integrity of the professionals at the MAA who oversaw the two-year bidding process, which was thorough, inclusive and highly transparent.

For too long, qualified executives of color have been asked to take a back seat to help a larger company achieve its minority business requirements. As a small part of their team, a Black or brown executive is considered a valued member. When that same minority professional creates his/her own firm, no attack is too scurrilous and no hypocrisy too brazen.

There is no controversy in the award of this contract. Anyone familiar with procurements within the aviation space will see that the Maryland Department of Transportation and the MAA released a thorough and exhaustive solicitation — including videos, airport data, and a clear timeline — ensuring complete integrity throughout the entire procurement process.

Maryland Board of Public Works ratification of the award to New Market Development would be a triumph for diversity, equity and Inclusion goals for the state and would make a home team gatekeepers for the opportunities at the airport and responsible for the results.

It is time for the Maryland Aviation Administration to stand with the very minority-owned businesses their process was designed to attract. We respectfully urge the MAA to complete the process and allow this award to be a victory for local business and inclusion.

Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr, Baltimore

Attendees at meeting on Quiet Waters building set disturbing tone

The point at Quiet Waters Reserve offers an expansive view of the South River and the Chesapeake Bay. A plan for an office building at the park property was dropped this week by Chesapeake Conservancy.

I read your report on community opposition, including threats of violence and disrupting community gatherings, over the Chesapeake Conservancy’s plans for a Quiet Waters building on waterfront land south of Annapolis, supported by private as well as public funds. This causes me to fear that once again, today’s political zealots have no sense of history or what constitutes civil behavior.

The environment they claim to be protecting would be in dismal shape today if, years ago, a man named Arthur Sherwood didn’t use the same kind of public-private coalition to start the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. What followed was a national model for environmental stewardship. And everything — from our treasuring maritime heritage to our recreational lifestyle, from our seafood to our property values — are so much the better for it.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation built community around common good. These anti-anything activists, fed by social media misinformation and an alarming lack of proper education, think they can substitute threats for discussion and yelling for community-based cooperation. We have already proven we’re better than that.

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Stan Heuisler, Baltimore

Speakers at Quiet Waters building meeting were right to object

An osprey nest perched on a navigation pole in the Severn River, with Chesapeake Bay bridge in the background, as seen from Greenbury Point in Annapolis.

I was shocked at how one-sided Rick Hutzell’s piece on Quiet Waters Park was. If there was a mob or hooligans or people making threats, they were nowhere to be seen.

This building and lease represent a giveaway on behalf of the real elitists. The hundreds who spoke out last Friday were informed, and the presentation was well researched and factual. The audience was unanimous in its opposition to the building proposal. I did not see or hear any threats or uncivil behavior from those speakers.

We now have an opportunity to revisit the plans and do it right. The horrid plan and lease can be scrapped, and we can create something truly great with real public buy-in and input. The story here is not how citizen activists wrecked a good plan with a mob but how well-informed and committed citizens stopped a bad idea in its tracks. Related to that is what happens when government officials think they know what’s right and only do the bare minimum to solicit public input.

I say thank you to all who stopped this horrid plan.

Paul Foer, Annapolis