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Downtown charm possible Regarding "Baldwin: Revitalization project delayed," [News, Jan. 29]: After years of waiting for the project to start, it is now delayed. No surprise here.

It is time to go to plan B. Look at the villages around Baldwin - Rockville Centre, Lynbrook and Cedarhurst. Look at places like Amityville, Lindenhurst, and even Bellport, Sayville, and Northport. They all have very attractive downtowns with small, privately owned businesses. They don't have any of the big chains and yet they attract people from all over the Island.

Baldwin should look at restoring what we have in place and make it attractive to small-business owners to open antiques stores, delis, luncheonettes, ice cream parlors, hobby shops, decent restaurants and other unique stores. Change Grand Avenue so that it has diagonal parking and set the speed limit to 15 mph through the shopping area.

There is already a good base for business in place; billiards, bowling, the library, the barber shop. By offering incentives, the Town of Hempstead can still revitalize this area with a lot less expense and bureaucracy - and Baldwin would have an area to be proud of.

Gary Peckett


Looking to Va. on consolidation

Calls for consolidation invariably spark cries of alarm that services will deteriorate ["Consolidating special districts isn't the answer," Opinion, Jan. 29]. But a detailed study by the Long Island Index reveals that such fears are unfounded.

We compared Long Island with the suburban counties of Fairfax and Loudoun in Northern Virginia. Demographically quite similar, the two regions differ most in their government structure. Northern Virginia has a total of 17 government entities, compared with Long Island's 439. This streamlined structure enables the Virginia counties to allocate resources more efficiently and rationally - and spend 31 percent less per capita than Long Island.

Fire protection is a good example. Long Island, while only 1.3 times larger in area and 2.2 times larger in population, has 6.6 times as many fire stations and 7.7 times as many fire engines. Yet the insurance industry's ratings for fire response times and number of calls show no significant difference. In fact, the Northern Virginians are more satisfied with their local services than Long Islanders by virtually every measure.

Let's build our future on facts, not fears. Can Long Island really lower costs and improve services at the same time? Research says, yes, we can.

Nancy Rauch Douzinas Editor's note: The writer is president of the Rauch Foundation.

Garden City

Can't sing his way out of it

J.D. Walsh just does not get it ["Callous enforcement of flawed laws," Opinion, Jan. 30]. Claiming that a young opera singer - who was brought to this country illegally as a child - should be exempt from the law because he is talented begs the issue. He is here illegally, even though by no fault of his own.

He may not have been the intended target, but there can be no exceptions to the law. Where is the flaw in demanding that you immigrate to this country legally? The flaw is in not enforcing our laws fully.

Roy Sperrazza


What's in a name? Shame

CitiField should have always been called Shea Stadium, in tribute to the man without whom there would be no National League baseball in New York ["Lawmakers call Citibank out," News, Jan. 30]. But now the name should stand as a shameful testament to the Mets sacrificing our team's history at the altar of the almighty dollar!

Lawrence C. McCourt

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