Page images

Senator YARBOROUGH. That is the real estate?
Mr. ASHBRIDGE. That is the real estate.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Have you included in that, Mr. Ashbridge, the value of the old buildings on it?

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. The old buildings really have no value because, as has been previously stated, they were built during the war as semipermanent construction. They have really served their purpose. And while they could be used on a temporary basis by the university, we feel that they are probably in the long run more of a liability than

an asset.

Senator YARBOROUGH. So you feel the real value here is the square footage of the land?

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. The real value is in the land because when the university or any other organization prepares to build here, they would have to demolish the old buildings at considerable cost.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Now, part of that land was donated to the government by the city of Memphis and the county in which Memphis is located?

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. That is correct according to the records which we have, which we got from the Corps of Engineers. The property was purchased by the Army before we took it over. A tract register, which was prepared by the Corps of Engineers, has at the top: "Funds allotted, $6,032 deposited by city of Memphis in U.S. Treasury as estimated cost of acquisition." That was for, I think, 121 acres. The city and county later donated 8 more acres. And then there was some additional land that was acquired by the War Department in fee from private ownership, 17 and a fraction acres.

Senator YARBOROUGH. All but that 17 acres, then, was donated by the

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. That is our understanding. We understand that the funds in the amount of 56,000-some-odd dollars, as I explained, were given by the city of Memphis and deposited in the Treasury of the United States.

Senator YARBOROUGH. For the purpose of acquiring this building for the Federal Government?

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. That is correct, sir.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Now, is this land adjacent to the University of Memphis?

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. It is right nearby.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Right close to it. In the same vicinity, neighborhood?

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. Oh, yes; it is very close.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Are you aware of the fact that on Monday, April 3, of this week, the House passed H. R. 4717, a bill very similar to Senator Gore's bill, S. 619?

Mr. BERNSTEIN. Yes, sir. It was referred here to your committee, I believe, just yesterday.

Senator YARBOROUGH. That is right. Is not the real question here about 2 years' time delay if this bill went through the GSA and you questioned all the Federal Departments and then it is declared surplus-if you followed the regular procedure, you would have about a 2-year delay, is that the real crux of the matter here?

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. Yes, that is our understanding here.

Senator YARBOROUGH. And the university's enrollment, as I understand it, is far greater than it was when I visited there a few years ago. What is it, 14,000 and something now? An estimated 20,000 by 1970?


Senator YARBOROUGH. Someone gave me that figure. And so that is the reason the overcrowding and the great enrollment at this State university-that there is such a need for this land now rather than after the usual GSA procedures. I understand this is the real reason for this legislation. In all probability the land would ultimately go to the university, but they need possession soon so they can build facilities to take care of this great influx of students.

Mr. BERNSTEIN. As we understand the testimony, that is the contention, and I do not know whether you have obtained any view of the GSA as to what they think about the time element that would be needed to process it in the normal way.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Are there any further questions, staff or anybody?

Thank you very much, gentlemen.

Now, let me ask you this: The passage of this bill would not cripple any of your VA functions?


Senator YARBOROUGH. This would not injure the service we give our wounded and ill veterans?

Mr. BERNSTEIN. No. You are correct, sir; it would not.

Senator YARBOROUGH. I want to be sure of that. While I am strong for education, I would not be in favor of the Veterans' Administration kicking veterans out of hospitals and giving them to educational institutions.

Mr. BERNSTEIN. No, sir. We would have complete control, but we could convey the land earlier if completion of the new VA facility permits.

Senator YARBOROUGH. And under the Government appropriation you are building a new veterans' hospital

Mr. BERNSTEIN. Several miles away.

Senator YARBOROUGH (continuing). To give the most modern treatment that can be given to our veterans?

Mr. BERNSTEIN. We think it is the best.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Fine. I congratulate you.

I know we are

anxious to get our new veterans' hospital going in San Antonio. Mr. BERNSTEIN. I can understand that.

Mr. ASHBRIDGE. We are working on this one very hard right now on the preliminary plans.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Fine. Thank you a lot.

Mr. BERNSTEIN. Thank you.

Senator YARBOROUGH. I believe that concludes the list of witnesses. Off the record.

(Discussion off the record.)

Senator RANDOLPH (presiding). The hearing will be concluded with the statement of the Chair as to the record being held open until the close of Senate business on Friday of this week.

At this point in the record I order printed some communications from Senator Wayne Morse, and the public law referred to.

[blocks in formation]

DEAR JENNINGS: Enclosed is a copy of a letter dated today which I addressed to Senator Gore on the subject of the bill S. 619 which was co-sponsored by Senators Gore and Baker.

I would appreciate it very much if you would include my letter addressed to Senator Gore in the hearing record relative to S. 619. With appreciation and best personal regards,



Re S. 619.

Hon. ALBERT Gore,

U.S. Senate,

Washington, D.C.


MARCH 29, 1967.

DEAR ALBERT: This refers to our brief conversation and to your letter and enclosure of March 21 relative to the bill, S. 619 to authorize the conveyance of certain Federal land and improvements comprising the Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis, to the State of Tennessee for the use of Memphis State University. When I talked to you initially about this case, I was under the impression that what was involved was a transfer of open land without improvements thereon, but upon reviewing the bill S. 619, I find, as you pointed out in your March 21 letter, that also included in the proposed gratuitous conveyance are unused buildings comprising the Kennedy Hospital. The fact that the bill covers improvements presents a special problem under the so-called "Morse formula".

If S. 619 covered only open lands which had become excess to the needs of the Veterans Hospital, the March 17 telegram from Messrs. Ramsey and Baker would have disposed of any problem under the "Morse formula". The case would then have been governed by the principles which were applied in 1956 to a transfer of land from the United States to the City of Roseburg, Oregon, which lands had become excess to the needs of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Roseburg. This case is reported in volume 102, part 7 of the Congressional Record. It related to H.R. 8123 which passed the Senate on May 31, 1956. Included in the Record is a copy of a letter dated May 21, 1956, I addressed to Senator Hill, Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, outlining briefly the nature of the "Morse formula" and indicating why in a case of this type, where the land was originally donated to the Government by the proposed gratuitous grantee named in the bill, the "Morse formula" was inapplicable. In my May 21 letter to Senator Hill, I stated:

"However, in cases such as this where the land was acquired by the Government through donation and its original donor seeks a reconveyance of a portion of the donated land, in unimproved condition (italics supplied), the Morse formula is inapplicable. The reason for this conclusion becomes apparent when we analyze the obvious intentions of the parties to the original transfer. When the City of Roseburg donated 413.7 acres of land to the United States in 1932, the understanding of the City and the Government officials, either express or implied, was that the land would be dedicated to the United States as the site of a veterans hospital. It is true that the original conveyance was made to the United States without condition or provision for reversion, but if the appropriate agency of the United States decides that it would be fair and proper to return any portion of the land to an original donor, the Morse formula would not prevent the United States from making a land transfer that in its essence represents fair play and equity

[ocr errors]

The fact that there are improvements on the tract of land covered by S. 619 presents an additional problem under the "Morse formula". These improvements belong to all the people of the United States and if they have value, the Government should be compensated therefor. This specific point was involved in the conveyance of certain lands to the State of Maryland for use by the University of Maryland under the bill S. 1988 of the 89th Congress. Prior to the introduction of S. 1988, my office discussed with members of the professional staff of the Senate

Interior Committee, the applicability of the "Morse formula" to the improvements situated on lands which had been donated originally to the United States by the State of Maryland. After acquiring the donated lands, the United States placed certain buildings thereon. Prior to the proposed conveyance envisaged in S. 1988, these buildings were occupied by the Bureau of Mines and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

There were two alternatives open to the State of Maryland. It could have sought a conveyance of the lands upon payment of 50 percent of the fair appraised market value of the improvements thereon, with a provision in the deed of conveyance calling for a reverter to the United States if the property should cease to be used for public purposes. The second alternative was that of taking a conveyance of the fee simple interest in the land and buildings, paying the fair appraised market value of the buildings. The State of Maryland chose the latter course of action and S. 1988 passed both houses of the Congress with a provision for a fee simple conveyance with the addition of this language:

"SEC. 2. The conveyance authorized by the first section of this Act shall be subject to the condition that the State of Maryland pay to the United States an amount equal to the fair market value, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior, of the fixed improvements on the tract of land to be conveyed."

S. 1988 became PL 89-227 of October 1, 1965. A copy of the public law is enclosed.

Under the circumstances, it is my suggestion that S. 619 be amended to provide for payment of 50 percent of the fair appraised market value of the fixed improvements situated thereon, subject to a reversion to the United States if the public use of the property should cease, or that in the alternative, the bill should provide for the conveyance of fee simple interest upon payment of the fair appraised market value of the fixed improvements.

It is my hope that the requirements of the "Morse formula" can be included in the bill to be reported by the Senate Public Works Committee in this case and I trust that the comments set forth in this letter will be of help to you.

With best personal regards,




Public Law 89-227

89th Congress, S. 1988
October 1, 1965.

An Act

To provide for the conveyance of certain real property of the United States to the State of Maryland.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary Maryland. of the Interior is authorized and directed to convey to the State of Real property, Maryland that tract of land situated on the campus of the University conveyance. of Maryland at College Park, Maryland, which was heretofore donated

to the United States by the State of Maryland, and which is more particularly described as follows:

Beginning at the southeast corner of an original 20.56-acre tract of land conveyed to the United States by deed dated November 9, 1935, and recorded April 20, 1939, in book 521, page 43 of the land records of Prince Georges County, said corner being marked by a cross cut in an iron grating on the north side of University Lane and immediately north of Symons Hall of the University of Maryland;

thence with the east boundary of the original 20.56-acre tract, north 0 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds west 681.94 feet to a point; thence south 89 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds west 701.88 feet to a point;

thence south 40 degrees 47 minutes 04 seconds west 406.34 feet to a point;

thence south 0 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds east 376.60 feet to a point;

thence north 89 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds east 970.00 feet to the point of beginning and containing 14.2452 acres, more or less, and being the total remaining acreage of the original 20.56 acres above mentioned now owned by the United States Government. SEC. 2. The conveyance authorized by the first section of this Act shall be subject to the condition that the State of Maryland pay to the United States an amount equal to the fair market value, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior, of the fixed improvements on the tract of land to be conveyed.

Approved October 1, 1965.

79 STAT. 899. 79 STAT. 900.


HOUSE REPORT NO. 1013 accompanying H. R. 9334 (Comm. on

Interior & Insular Affairs).

SENATE REPORT No. 468 (Comm. on Interior & Insular Affairs).

July 21: Considered and passed Senate.

Sept. 20: Considered and passed House, in lieu of H. R. 9334,

« PreviousContinue »