Restoring historic cemeteries

As Ed Colimore's article about Mount Moriah Cemetery's demise aptly describes, the loss of permanent care at formerly glorious cemeteries is both a personal and public tragedy ("For cemeteries, an eternal task," March 25). While such losses are still rare, they do remind us of the enormous obligation that goes with the promise of eternal care. Many of us are looking for ways to help restore Mount Moriah to her former glory and bring peace back to the families whose descendants are buried there.

For the historic cemeteries across the nation that have been more successful, we are working together to assure that permanent high-quality care will be provided even beyond those years when income from current sales is long past. Among the ways we seek to meet our eternal goal is to make cemeteries more inviting to the public and to keep them relevant in honor of the dead and the living. We do this by making historic cemeteries places where rich stories can be told and where we can enjoy the beauty of landscapes, monuments, and historic structures - in the manner of their original intent.

As A.J. Downing, America's leading horticulturist, said in 1841, Mount Auburn, Laurel Hill, and their progeny were "the first really elegant public gardens or promenades formed in this country."

Alexander L. (Pete) Hoskins, president and CEO, Laurel Hill & West Laurel Hill Cemetery Cos., Bala Cynwyd

Cleaning up after the feedings

I take exception to Patrick Kerkstra's article on the homeless and the Barnes Museum. ("The poor, the elite, the Barnes connection," March 23).

I proudly consider myself a liberal Democrat who cares about the homeless, civil rights, gay rights, and equality in our society. I am also a homeowner who lives a block away from the Vine Street plaza where the feeding of the homeless takes place. What I object to has nothing to do with "glamming up" the Parkway so that visitors are not scared off from visiting the Barnes. It has everything to do with the behavior of some of those who are being fed.

When the meals are finished being handed out and the Good Samaritans return to their suburban homes, one sees the remnants of these meals scattered all over the place. Leftover food is tossed on the ground, and many of the homeless are spread out on blankets taking naps. I've witnessed some of them urinating and defecating in the park. I've asked some amorous couples to stop having sex under a blanket in clear view of anyone in the park.

There are children in this area, and residents with homes who pay taxes and volunteer to help those less fortunate and yet must deal with this unseemly behavior.

Kevin McCarthy, Philadelphia,

Alternatives with positive results

Charter schools have never been put forward as the solution to all the problems in schools, but rather as an alternative that seems to have some positive results ("Wrong way to fix schools," March 23). While not always superior in test results, they are usually superior in safety, security, and discipline, areas notably lacking in public schools.

The statement "Regular schools could use that money to improve" does not fly. They had that money in the first place and didn't demonstrate that they had the right leadership. More importantly, charters only get a portion of the funding provided to public schools on a per-student basis. You "lament" that Chester Upland charters get 40 percent of district funds, but they have 45 percent of the students. So the charters do their job with less money per pupil. On the issue of classifying special-ed students, that would seem to be something the state could review and resolve.

Charter schools have become a viable option because children, generally in poor neighborhoods, need better educational opportunities than they are being given in public schools. The hope is that public schools see what works in charters and apply those things.

Tom Friedberg, Medford,