Today we have an update with some distressing news regarding historic preservation in Baltimore. We just learned that Baltimore’s local historic preservation commission- the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) – is holding a special “closed door” meeting on Monday, August 27 with the purpose of firing CHAP’s Executive Director, Ms. Kathleen Kotarba. While we are reluctant to get involved in a personnel matter at CHAP, we are confident that the effort to fire Ms. Kotarba is directly related to her professional work with CHAP staff and commissioners and fear that it involves recent controversial historic preservation issues – the preservation of Read’s Drug Store, the Mechanic Theater, and the Edgar Allan Poe House. As you know, preservation issues are at the forefront of many city-shaping decisions today and we fear that the effort to fire Ms. Kotarba is an attempt to reduce the influence of historic preservation in Baltimore.
I wanted to let you know that this controversy is unfolding and also to ask for your help. We do not know the full story behind Monday’s meeting, but we do know that Ms. Kotarba has served the city with distinction for nearly 35 years. Firing her behind closed doors is unfair and makes no sense. If there are administrative issues or issues involving the direction of CHAP, we strongly believe that the director should be involved in the solution. Therefore, I ask that you join us in voicing our concern by contacting CHAP Commissioners. In thinking about this, I want to point out that the executive director of CHAP is an unusual position within city government: the director works for the CHAP Commission. I think the position was created this way on purpose knowing that the director might encounter tough issues that ruffle feathers. It is only with a strong and professional preservation staff and commission that checks and balances within city government are possible.We need you to let the CHAP Commissioners know that you care about preservation leadership in Baltimore. Click here to start composing an e-mail addressed to the full commission or find a list of individual commissioners below. Please also join us in demonstrating your concern by attending Monday’s CHAP meeting. We expect there may be no opportunity for us to speak but we can help show the importance of preservation in Baltimore just by being there.
Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation – Special Session
Reeves Conference Room, Baltimore City Hall, 100 Holliday Street, 4th floor
Monday, August 27, 1:00 pm.
Thank you, again, for your help in ensuring that we have a fair and respectful city process for historic preservation in Baltimore.