This post was originally published on Baltimore Heritage‘s blog on August 23, 2012.
This post is presented as an opportunity for citizen engagement and does not necessarily represent the mission of CPHA.
Executive Director of Baltimore Heritage, Johns Hopkins, writes:
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.