Discussions are underway about moving Baltimore’s Holocaust Memorial from its current downtown location on Lombard Street adjacent to the now-closed Bard building, which is owned by Baltimore City Community College. But, said Dr. Arthur C. Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, there are no specific plans.
Abramson said there have been discussions with the BJC, Downtown Partnership Inc. and the college over the future of the site. However, it was just to explore options available to all parties involved.
“We just had some follow-up conversations with Baltimore City Community College, but that’s all there has been,” Abramson said. “There’s no push to move the Holocaust Memorial from its current location, but we’re not against examining what options are available.”
The future of the Holocaust Memorial has been a topic of a discussion for more than a year. Last April, the Cordish Companies broke off exclusive negotiations with the college over how to move forward with the memorial. Cordish, which owns the neighboring Power Plant Live complex, had been negotiating with the college beginning in 2010 about the building, which has been closed to students since 2009.
The site of the memorial is owned by the college, but the BJC has a 99-year lease.
“We respectfully disagreed with the Baltimore City Community College’s decision that the Jewish community be required to relocate the Holocaust Memorial as a precondition to developing the Bard building site,” read a statement released by Cordish last year.
BCCC spokesman Patrick Onley said there are no new requests for proposals in place yet, but he wants to keep the lines of communications open between the college, the Downtown Partnership and the BJC over any potential redevelopment opportunities.
“There is nothing imminent in place right now,” Onley said. “It’s premature to say we have any plans in place for the site. But whatever we decide to do, we want to ensure that the BJC and all other pertinent parties are kept informed throughout the entire process.”
Abramson said that the BJC is not necessarily opposed to moving the Holocaust Memorial, but he added there are many more pressing capital needs that require the attention of the Jewish community.
“As the college looks to redevelop and/or sell the property, we’re prepared to look at any and all proposals set before us,” Abramson said.
“At the same time, we admit it’s not an ideal location for a Holocaust Memorial, as it is cut off from much of the Jewish community and it is not an ideal place for people to visit.”
At least one Holocaust survivor agrees with Abramson’s assessment.
Rubin Sztajer, 87, of Baltimore, lost his parents, his two younger sisters and his little brother to the Holocaust.
Sztajer tells his story of loss and survival at least 80 times a year to various school and community groups, and is not a fan of the current Holocaust Memorial site. In fact, he has been an outspoken critic of the site. He says the location is “horrible.”
“It really doesn’t matter to me what they do with it,” Sztajer told the Baltimore Jewish Times. “No one goes to see it, and I’ve never ever seen anyone there. It should be moved to where it is more accessible to the Jewish community and to those who could best appreciate its value to others.” JT