D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, touring revitalized areas of this port city 35 miles north of Washington, today said that Baltimore residents seem to have more neighborhood pride than the folks who dwell in his hometown.
"It [Baltimore] has a sense of neighborhood pride, which in some instances, [doesn't] exist enough in Washington because of the transitory nature of our city," Barry said after meeting with Baltimore Mayor William Donal Schaefer and touring a new industrial park.
Smiling before Baltimore television cameras, Barry added, "We would like to have the same kind of neighborhood pride -- fiercely competitive, but cooperative with the rest of the city. I think we can learn from Baltimoreans in doing that."
Barry, who said he came here to get fresh ideas for redeveloping blighted areas in the District, also said Baltimore's business community appears to, have a better working partnership with local government officials than Washington business leaders have with his administration.
"Part of what has happened in Washington is because of the presence of the federal government," Barry told reporters at an impromptu sidewalk news conference. "A number of business people are skeptical of federal involvement, and they extend that attitude to local government. We got to work together to get our town to grow together. . . . It's happening, but not in the same way I think it ought to be happening, not in the same way I got the impression it happened in Baltimore.
"I'm sure Mayor Schaefer doesn't get 100 percent support from every business person, but they seem to understand the need to be involved more so than Washington business people. That doesn't mean the Washington people are not interested," Barry added, "They did not have the leadership before my administration to do it."
Barry talked to reporters while standing outside Baltimore's new Harborplace -- a once-dilapidated downtown port area filled with abandoned, rat-infested warehouses that has been transformed into a glittering $300 million showplace of shops, restaurants and theaters.
"We expected 10 million people to come here this year," bragged James W. Rouse, chairman of the Rouse Company, which developed Harbor-place, as well as the Faneuil Market in Boston, Mass., and the new town of Columbia in suburban Maryland.
Before hustling Barry off for a fast-paced guided tour of Harborplace, Rouse said the District has several "excellent sites" for complexes like Harborplace in Georgetown and other locations near the Potomac River. Between bites of bareque and slurps of oysters, Barry was introduced to employes of the Foot in the Mouth hotdog restaurant and King of the Sky kite store as he, Rouse the mayor's top aides and reporters bulldozed their way through a mob of holiday shoppers. "Who in the hell are you?" one shopper screamed at Barry after being hit in the head by a television camera. "Hey look over here," children yelled as they fell in behind the group.
When told that the man leading the procesion was the mayor of Washington, who had come here to learn about Baltimore's revitalization program, several shop owners and shoppers grinned broadly.
"It's about time they learned that we are just as good as they are," exclaimed a bald man downing oysters a few feet away from Barry, referring to what many Baltimore residents have viewed as Washington's "superior" attitude.
"Sure Washingtons looked down on Baltimore. Everyone used to look down on Baltimore; we even looked down on ourselves," Schaefer said. "But we have been able to restor people's pride here, and now we don't feel like we have to apologize to anyone. We are as good as any city and better than most.
"I don't think it's odd at all for Mayor Barry to come here to learn about our programs."
Schaefer said the key to his city's redevelopment was help from federal and state agencies, community support and "listening to the people."
"We didn't ask planners where a neighborhood park should be; we asked the people in the neighborhoods, and they told us," he said. "We didn't tell businesses why they needed to stay here. We asked them what we could do to help them stay.
"And I didn't make any promises," Schaefer said. "I told them what we could do and couldn't do, and then we did it."
That's part of the advice Schaefer said he offered Barry.
Barry said his meeting with Schaefer and morning tour convinced him that the District needs to develop an industrial park to create more blue-collar jobs. The New York Avenue corridor in Northeast Washington is a "prime location," Barry said.
Barry's director of business and economic development, Lawrence Schumake, said the city also will examine ways to give tax incentives to attract light industry.
After his tour, Barry said he and Schaefer are members of a mutual admiration society because they face identical problems: "high expectations [from voters] and a lack of adequate resources to do all we want to do, so we have to make to with what we have and make it work better."