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ACQUISITION OF LAND FOR WEST POINT MILITARY
FEBRUARY 18, 1931.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. MCSWAIN, from the Committee on Military Affairs, submitted the following
[To accompany S. 5732]
The Committee on Military Affairs to which was referred the bill (S. 5732) to authorize the acquisition for military purposes of land in Orange County, N. Y., for use as an addition to the West Point Military Reservation, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that it do pass with the following amendment:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu thereof the following:
That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to acquire, by purchase, condemnation, or otherwise, additional land in the vicinity of, and for use by, the United States Military Academy, in connection with the present military reservation at West Point, New York, such land being fifteen thousand one hundred and thirty-five acres, more or less, and including land surrounding Popolopen Lake, land bordering on the River Hudson, and other interlocking plots of land, all located in Orange County, New York; and the sum of $1,500,000 is hereby authorized to be appropriated, from any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, which sum shall remain available until expended: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall adversely affect the existing water supply, its sources, or pipe lines of the town of Highlands, New York.
SEC. 2. The Secretary of War shall, by due advertisements in such manner as he deems best and calculated to give the widest necessary publicity, call for offers of land for use in connection with said West Point, New York, and if after negotiation he is able to buy said land or any part or parcel or tract thereof, and at such price or prices as he shall deem to be the fair and reasonable market value of the land, then he is authorized to purchase said land for said purpose at such prices; and if any of said offers of land are at prices deemed by the Secretary of War to be above the reasonable market value of such parcel or tract of land, and if after the negotiation the Secretary of War is unable to purchase the same at fair and reasonable prices as herein defined, then in such case the Secretary of War is authorized to request the Attorney General of the United States to
institute condemnation proceedings for the acquiring of such tracts or parcels of land as may be necessary for such purpose.
This bill authorizes the acquiring of approximately 15,000 acres of land at West Point, N. Y., to be added to the military reservation at that place, and provides for an appropriation of $1,500,000 for such purposes. A careful study of the situation at West Point, with especial reference to the water supply, is very convincing that it is necessary to secure this additional land without delay. The acreage it is proposed to purchase includes the present watershed, which is in fact the only water supply available to the academy. By reason of the fact that much of the watershed area is being used by summer residents for bungalows, lodges, and camps in ever-increasing numbers, the authorities at West Point contend that it will not be long until the water becomes so polluted that it will be impossible to render it fit for use. Due to the small supply available there has been an actual shortage of water at West Point for the past two years. There is at present a small reservation on which the intake pipes are placed, the water secured being the overflow from Queensboro Lake, Popolopen Lake, and Long Pond. By purchasing the proposed 15,000 acres the Government will secure control of the area, thus being in a position to place dams at desirable points and thus to insure to the academy a supply of pure water that will be adequate for all present and future needs.
The chairman of your committee has made a number of visits to the academy to go over this ground, that he might have a full and complete knowledge of the situation. It is his opinion that not only should the ground be purchased in order to insure an adequate supply of pure water, but the area is badly needed as well for training purposes. The training facilities at the Military Academy at this time. are entirely inadequate. For instance, with an increasing need for small arms, machine gun, and artillery firing instruction the cadets are able to get but a very limited instruction in small-arm firing practice, instruction in machine-gun firing at 1,000-inch range only, and no instruction in artillery firing at West Point. The present smallarms range is but a makeshift, inadequate and unsafe, while there is no site available at all for a machine-gun range. The construction of the Storm King Highway across the artillery range has made its impossible to use the range for artillery firing practice.
At the present time, cadets of the first class are sent away for instruction in artillery firing as well as in flying. The instruction of cadets in aviation is restricted to a 5-day visit for the first class at Langley Field, Va., where the maximum number of hours in the air per cadet is not over five hours. To send cadets to Langley Field is expensive; therefore this instruction is now restricted to only the one class. The same is true regarding instruction in artillery firing. The present yearly cost of transportation for cadets receiving instruction away from West Point in aviation and artillery firing is about $15,000 and only one class is benefited. This item of expense can be saved by the acquisition of this proposed additional area while at the same time all the classes will have an opportunity to secure vitally necessary instruction.
The officials at West Point are very much in favor of the proposed legislation. They point out that the addition will mean much to the military school, while at the same time it will not interfere with the
road system at present running through the area, and it can be acquired at this time at what is considered a reasonable figure. They point out, also, that failure to secure the additional land will mean either the removal of the academy to a more adequate site, or a serious curtailment of the school's military activities. Their reasons are fully set forth in the memorandum submitted to the War Department, which is made a part of this report hereafter.
In connection with the effort to provide the Military Academy with adequate area and facilities to properly train the cadets, your committee invite the attention of the Congress to the reference of George Washington to the academy in the last letter he wrote before he died. This is of particular interest at this time, when we are approaching the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of our first President.
The establishment of an institution of this kind, upon a respectable and extensive basis, has ever been considered by me as an object of primary importance to this country, and while I was in the Chair of Government I omitted no proper opportunity of recommending it, in my public speeches and other ways, to the attention of the Legislature. (Letter to Alexander Hamilton, dated Mount Vernon, December 12, 1799.)
The committee also feel it would be well to call attention to the statement of President Andrew Jackson in his first message to Congress, December, 1829:
I recommend to your fostering care, as one of our safest means of national defense, the Military Academy. This institution has already exercised the happiest influence upon the moral and intellectual character of our Army; and such of the graduates as from various causes may not pursue the profession of arms will be scarcely less useful as citizens. Their knowledge of the military art will be advantageously employed in the militia service, and in a measure secure to that class of troops the advantages which in this respect belong to standing armies.
A bill for the purchase of additional land at West Point for the academy was also introduced by Hon. Hamilton Fish, in whose district this area is located. That bill is as follows:
[H. R. 8480, Seventy-first Congress, second session]
A BILL To authorize the acquisition of certain parcels of land required in connection with the extension of the West Point Military Reservation grounds
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to acquire, by purchase or otherwise, the following-described parcels of land, being adjacent to the United States Military Academy, in Orange County, New York, for the extension of the grounds of the West Point Military Reservation: Redner estate (Margaret Redner, Mary Redner, William Redner, John Redner, and Daniel Redner), 1,200 acres; James Corrigan, 96 acres; Bragio Julian (Mine Inn), 76 acres; Edward and Theodore Clark (heirs Charles Clark), 436 and 180 acres; Mrs. M. Hallmann estate (Hallmann heirs), 400 acres; John Roser (owned by the State Park), 100 acres; Professor Conant, Brooklyn, New York, 50 acres; Laurence Gibney, 400 acres; Anthony Zint, 400 acres; Rachel Conklin, 150 acres; J. Townsend Cassidy, Newburgh, New York, 175 acres; Major Rand, United States Army, retired, 200 acres; Frank Woodruff (house and lot), 100 acres; William Lewis, 100 acres; Adelbert Curry (small plot), 5 acres; Grover Cox. 90 acres; John E. Adolph, 95 acres; Edward Baron, 102 acres; J. W. Ficken (house and land; assessed value, $4,600); Harry Goodsell, 125 acres; Mrs. Grace Varcoe (house), one-fourth acre; H. L. Satterlee (country estate with large buildings; assessed valuation, $58,000), 106 acres; Mrs. Charles Tracey (Mrs. J. B. Tracey, large, valuable country estate), 92 acres; Mrs. M. Archer-Shee (Major ArcherShee, retired officer in the English Army, large, valuable buildings), 173 acres; J. P. Morgan property (now under the control of the Cragston Development
Corporation (Cragston Yacht and Country Club); very valuable piece of property), 850 acres; John Weyant heirs, 360 acres; Doctor Lee W. Beatie, Fort Montgomery, New York, 200 acres; A. J. Appleton, 9 acres; the DuBarry sisters, 40 acres; the Park, 200 acres; 1. F. Garrison, 75 acres; Theodore Faurot, 50 acres; Mrs. E. P. Brooks, 9 acres; Mrs. Morrison, 150 acres; Pavek estate (Clara and Charles Pavek, land located near Long Pond; probably 750 acres), 600 acres; Hudson Iron Company (Townsend plots), 268 acres; E. C. Carpenter (the Ward lot), 160 acres; Hattie Piano, 235 acres; É. G. Stillman (1,237 acres Crow's Nest property near East Riverside Park, all located in Highland Falls, New York; the rest of this property is in Cornwall, New York), 3,000 acres; and any other small interlocking plots of land which may be required to complete the proposed extension; and the sum of $1,500,000 is hereby authorized to be appropriated, from any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, which sum shall remain available until expended.
The acreage proposed under the Fish bill is about 12,856 acres.
A full and complete hearing was held, at which representatives of the War Department, the Military Academy, and the residents of the town of Highlands and the village of Highland Falls presented statements on the subject.
Mr. McGrady, of the American Federation of Labor, made the following statement at the hearing held on this subject by your committee:
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: I represent perhaps the largest civilian organization in the United States. The American Federation of Labor is now and has been in favor of giving West Point all that it needs to function effectively, properly, and efficiently. I might say that my organization has, in the State of New York, upward of 850,000 members, most of them, practically all of them, citizens of the State and taxpayers of the various communities. This organization is solidly behind the request of the authorities at West Point to give the institution adequate support, and we hope that either Congressman James's bill or Senator Reed's bill will pass your committee and pass the Congress
at this session.
The following statements (including the report of the War Department) and communications received by your committee on this subject are made a part of this report, as follows:
Hon. W. FRANK JAMES,
Chairman Committee on Military Affairs,
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, February 16, 1931.
House of Representatives,
DEAR MR. JAMES: Careful consideration has been given to the bills S. 5732, to authorize the acquisition for military purposes of land in Orange County, N. Y., for use as an addition to the West Point Military Reservation; H. R. 14811, to authorize an appropriation for the purchase of land and buildings thereon joining the West Point Military Reservation, N. Y., and for other purposes; and H. R. 8480, to authorize the acquisition of certain parcels of land required in connection with the extension of the West Point Military Reservation grounds, which you transmitted to the War Department under date of February 7, 1931, with a request for report thereon.
There is no existing law authorizing an appropriation for the acquisition of the land referred to in these bills.
Each bill would authorize an appropriation of $1,500,000 for the proposed acquisition. S. 5732 provides for the acquisition by purchase, condemnation, or otherwise, of approximately 17,000 acres of land in Orange County, N. Y., as an addition to the West Point Military Reservation. Section 1 of H. R. 14811 is similar in import to S. 5732, but describes the land as being 15,135 acres, more or less, and specifically includes "land surrounding Popolopen Lake, land bordering on the River Hudson, and other interlocking plots of land, all located in Highland Falls, Orange County, N. Y." Section 2 of this bill prescribes the procedure to be followed in the acquisition. H. R. 8480 specifies numerous tracts, with statements of the ownership and acreage, as well as authorizing the acquisition of other similar interlocking plots of land required to complete the proposed extension.