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ACQUISITION OF LAND AT CAMPS CUSTER, DEVENS, ĐIX, GRANT, JACKSON, AND LEE.
Mr. ANTHONY. Will you tell us about this item for the completion of the acquisition of lands at Camps Custer, Devens, Dix, Grant, Jackson, and Lee, $408.200!
Gen. Carson. Perhaps I had better give you the story. Condemnation proceedings for the acquisition of portions of all of these sites were instituted during the fiscal year 1919 under an appropriation available for that fiscal year. In no case, however, have the proceedings yet been completed in all respects; but the appropriation under which the proceedings were brought being available for obligation only until the close of the fiscal year 1919, the unexpended balance of that appropriation lapsed and was covered into the surplus fund of the Treasury on June 30, 1921. In the case of each tract it is distinctly to the interest of the United States to complete the acquisition of title rather than to pay damages for the occupancy and use of the land. It is anticipated that the proceedings in each instance can be prosecuted to an early conclusion, although the necessary funds must be made available to permit payments to be made.
Mr. ANTHONY. I understand that in each case there has been authority of law to make these contracts, and that contracts have actually been entered into for the purchase of the tracts of land.
Gen. Carson. Yes, sir; that is the situation. The delay has been due to the fact that in some cases there was no agreement as to price, and it was necessary to institute condemnation proceedings.
Mr. ANTHONY. And in each case the purchase has been made with the idea that it was cheaper to go ahead and acquire this land in order to round out some necessary part of the reservation or to make it more complete?
Gen. CARSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. ANTHONY. Or to prevent losses of some kind where the land was under lease, and the idea was that it would cost more to continue the lease than to buy!
Gen. Carson. In practically every case that is so. In some cases it was necessary to institute proceedings to clear the title. The price was agreed upon with the owner, but the title was not clear, and it was necessary to get a court decision in the matter.
Mr. ANTHONY. Where are these camps located?
Gen. Carson. The camps involved are Camp Grant, Ill., for which the total amount necessary is $253,000.
(See pp. 504, 506.) Mr. ANTHONY. What is the acreage of Camp Grant? Gen. Carson. The total acreage is 3,812.
Mr. ANTHONY. What use does the War Department propose to make of Camp Grant? Is it used as a camp at this time?
Gen. Carson. It is now occupied; yes, sir.
Mr. ANTHONY. Has any proposition come to the War Department or to you involving the use of the camp by the Veterans' Bureau for the vocational training of veterans ?
Gen. Carson. So far as I know personally, not as to Camp Grant.
(See p. 507.) Mr. ANTHONY. What about Camp Devens? That is in Massach: setts, and what is the acreage there?
Gen. Carson. There the acreage is 4,671.
Gen. CARSON. That is in use; yes, sir. The amount to be acquired there is only five acres, and that is some ground on which wells have been sunk as a part of the water supply of the camp.
Mr. ANTHONY. How much do you intend to pay for the five acres ?
Gen. Carson. We have estimated $2,500 as enough to cover the case. The court has not settled it finally, I believe, but we think that is more than enough.
Mr. ANTHONY. You have to accept the judgment of the court?
Gen. Carson. Yes, sir. If the court awards more than that amount we will have to pay it, but we think it will not; if the court should award more than that amount then it would be a question of being certified to Congress.later.
(See pp. 503, 506.) Mr. Byrns. Did you state how many acres you propose to purchase at Camp Grant?
Gen. Carson. No, sir; I did not give you that figure. Eight hundred and twenty-one acres.
Mr. ANTHONY. What is the idea of buying so much land there?
Gen. Carson. This is to complete the purchases that were originally entered into, and the total acreage of the camp, as I gave it to you, is 3,824,
Mr. ANTHONY. But these contracts for the purchase of this addi. tional land have been made since the war, have they not?
Gen. Carson. They were in the original camp site.
Mr. Byrns. Are the 821 acres you are now seeking to purchase being occupied ?
Gen. Carson. Oh, yes; and some of the most important improvements of the camp are on this land—the water supply and the hospital center.
Mr. ANTHONY. It has simply been under lease?
Gen. Carson. No, sir; only until June, 1919, and then orders were given to acquire the land.
Mr. ANTHONY. That is what I say, it has been purchased since the war?
Gen. CARSON. Yes.
Mr. ANTHONY. I have been informed that at Camp Grant the Government has instituted these proceedings for the acquisition of farm land worth a great deal of money—$500 or $600 an acre.
Gen. (Arson. Not so much as that, sir.
, it ran all the way from $200 to $300, and the average is $243 for the land that has been paid for.
Mr. ANTHONY. What buildings are on this land at Camp Grant?
Gen. Carson. The hospital group. The improvements on the land have practically destroyed it for farming purposes. If we were to attempt to give it up now we would be open to such heavy suits or claims for damages that it would be cheaper to buy the land, because the amount of those damages would be much more than the price we expect to pay for the land. This is a map showing the camp.
Mr. ANTHONY. Where is the hospital group?
Gen. Carson. This is part of it, and here is the water supply on this end [indicating].
Mr. ANTHONY. Located on the 800 acres?
Mr. ANTHONY. Have you ever had any protests over the acquisition of that land from residents in the vicinity?
Gen. Carson. Not from residents in the vicinity, but we have had some protests from the owners of these particular tracts.
Mr. ANTHONY. They do not want to let the land
Gen. CARSON. They want it returned, but if that is done, without the protection that will be given to us by following the condemnation proceedings to a finish, we will be open to such heavy damages that it will more than exceed the estimated cost of acquiring the land and then dealing with them afterwards.
Mr. Byrns. Do I understand, General, that condemnation proceedings have already been instituted with reference to this entire tract of 821 acres?
Gen. CARSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. Byrns. Petitions have been filed and there the proceedings rest.
Capt. BAZIRE. Yes.
Gen. Carson. We need the money to protect the Government from these damage claims.
Mr. CANNON. Where is Camp Grant?
The CHAIRMAN. At Rockford, Ill. Is this land worth $243 an acre?
Capt. BAZIRE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I live out in that neighborhood, and I do not know of any land that is worth that much money.
Gen. Carson. The price is going to be settled by the court, and if that amount is not fixed by the court we will not have to pay it; but we want the matter of its value determined by legal decision.
Mr. ANTHONY. Is Camp Grant a divisional headquarters now!
The CHAIRMAN. If it is a divisional headquarters, can you tell us anything about why it is the Veterans' Bureau is proposing to take it over?
Gen. Carson. I did not understand that the Veterans’ Bureau is proposing to take it over.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; they are.
Gen. Carson. Camp Sherman has been turned over to them; I know that, because the information has come to me officially.
Mr. ANTHONY. Is that the only camp that has been turned over to the Veterans' Bureau ?
Gen. Carson. So far; yes, sir.
(See pp. 503, 504.) The CHAIRMAN. When are these suits likely to be tried? Gen. Carson. In the very near future.
Capt. BAZIRE. The November term of court is now on, but the judge has not set a date on the calendar when the cases will be tried.
The CHAIRMAN. How many acres are involved?
Gen. Carson. We are not in a position to push the trials just now, because we have no funds with which to pay for the land.
The CHAIRMAN. It depends entirely upon the Government whether the trials are pushed or not. does it?
Gen. CARSON. No; because the suits are on the court calendar and will be called up and settled; but we are in no position to urge eariy action.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you paying rent now?
Gen. Carson. No; we have paid no rent since the proceedings were instituted in 1919. Under the law. the institution of condemnation proceedings gives the Government title to the land and the leases stop. We can not possibly restore this ground to what it was originally, which we would have to do under the terms of the leases, and if we were to withdraw these condemnation proceedings now the Government would be in the position of a trespasser, as the owners automatically would have title to the land and all improvements on it.
Mr. ANTHONY. Along that line, has it not been the experience of the War Department that when it has had land under lease for camp purposes and has relinquished the land that claims for damages to the land have been filed?
Gen. CARSON. Yes, sir.
Gen. Carson. Yes, sir: we are wrestling with a number of such claims now.
Mr. ANTHONY. You have found in a case like this and others that it would be cheaper for the Government to purchase the land than to pay damages!
Gen. Carson. Yes, sir.
The ChaiRMAN. If we buy the land then what will happen to it? Are we going to keep it?
Gen. ('arson. That is a policy to be determined by the War Department; I can not comment upon that just now.
(See p. 504.) Mr. ANTHONY. I think that covers Camp Grant. Now, tell us the situation at Camp Devens. How many acres did you say you desired to acquire there?
Gen. CARSON. About 5 acres of land adjoining the water supply and on which 5 acres some wells have been dug and which form a part of the water-supply system.
Mr. Byrns. Is that in the same sort of a situation as far as condemnation proceedings are concerned?
Gen. Carson. Yes, sir.
Capt. Bazire. They have all been tried but one, and there were 22 cases originally.
Mr. BYRNs. I was referring to these particular 5 acres. (apt. BAZIRE. That case has not come up yet.
Gen. Carson. That is what I say; it has not been settled by the court; it is in court, but the court has not rendered a decision. It is in the hands of the district attorney of that section through the Department of Justice.
The CHAIRMAN. Is the Government occupying these 5 acres?
Gen. Carson. Yes. We are using this land and drawing water from it, and it is, in a way, a vital necessity.
Mr. ANTHONY. Camp Dix is in New Jersey and is also a divisional headquarters. What do you propose to buy there!
Gen. Carson. The cases pending involve 2,630 acres; we have acquired 5,212 acres, making a total of 7,842 acres. These cases involve 2,630 acres, and there are 12 cases all told, I think.
Mr. ANTHONY. Is this land scattered over the reservation?
Mr. ANTHONY. Have any improvements been erected by the Government upon it?
Capt. BAZIRE. Some improvements have been erected, but the largest area of the unacquired land is in the rifle range.
Mr. ANTHONY. What is the price of the land there?
and the land that is better than that runs from $50 to $75.
Mr. Byrns. How much are you asking for that?
Gen. Carson. We are asking for $60,000, which is probably more than necessary, but we are waiting for the court decision in a number of cases.
The CHAIRMAN. You are asking about $30 an acre, and yet you say the land is worth about $5 or $10.
Gen. CARSON. To be accurate, $22.21.