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'When only a select group of people are engaged you don’t get a full picture' Business owners question recent private safety meeting

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 17:29:36-04

BALTIMORE — Business owners, residents and city leaders have been working to address the recent violence in Fells Point. Those measures include various virtual meetings and conversations.

The most recent occurred Friday afternoon.

"This is not the first conversation we’ve had," said Councilman Zeke Cohen. "But this was a real important conversation because all the stakeholders were on board."

The private zoom meeting included multiple city agencies, Councilman Cohen, three Fells Point business owners and board members of the Fells Point Residents Association.

"I feel although the meeting was only an hour long, I feel we made tremendous progress," said Nick Johnson, owner of Su Casa Furniture.

Johnson was one of the three business representatives. He said much of the conversation centered around issues outlined in a letter previously sent to the mayor and other elected leaders.

"On this meeting with the deputy mayor we talked about parking enforcement. We talked about open air alcohol and illegal alcohol sales," said Johnson.

Despite what was seen as an overall positive conversation, some business owners feel the private conversation should have been public.

"When only a select group of people are engaged you don’t get a full picture," said Claudio Towles, owner of aMuse Toys. "I think that these private meetings are not constructive and they can actually lead to a lot of division."

Supporters of the zoom meeting maintain representatives were picked to streamline the process.

"We can’t get thousands of people in a room and have a productive meeting," said Sean Brecia of The Warf Rat. "We put together a delegation that was representative. It was representative of businesses. It was representative of residents."

WMAR 2 News has asked for a copy of the Zoom meeting. However, it's still unclear if it will be released for the public to view.