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In other words, the reverter provision would continue to apply on the two main parcels of land, it would simply be released from this portion here [indicating].
However, it would continue to be subject to other reservations which the Army report recommends.
The Army witness will bring the committee's attention to those.
Mr. SLATINSHEK. In respect to parcel C, which is a part from the military reservation and represents about 41 acres of land which could be used for industrial purposes.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. The purpose of this, of course, Mr. Price is that we have industrialization going on. No one wants to purchase and place a sizable construtcion on there with the possible reverter unless they can get some clear title to the land.
Mr. Price. How large is this parcel?
Mr. Phillin. I take it you have come to an agreement on the reservations, so-called, that you will continue in effect restrictions against the use of the property for the purpose which will result in smoke or noise or odor or dust?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. This has been accepted.
Mr. PhilBIN. And the restriction which would preclude the erection of any structrue exceeding 500 feet?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. This has been accepted.
Mr. Phillin. And the third, and it presents some problem, is this fair value.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Yes.
Mr. Phillin. Have you been into that matter with any of the officials concerned here?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Informally only. I may say too, Mr. Chairman, that the Corps of Engineers from the Albuquerque office are aware of the identity of the individuals who propose to build, they have been in communication with these officials and state in their report that they have reached the conclusion that their structures, their type of business, would be in conformity with the reservations here.
As to the fair market value, I would say informally——the Army states this is a matter of policy, which we recognize and can appreciate—but we do feel that some record ought to be established as to the fact that the city of El Paso reluctantly agreed to the transfer in the first place, and it was a matter of accommodation for getting along with our military associates in El Paso.
However, we do not feel that we should be cast in the role of trying to be taking something that is not exactly what we request and what is fair.
We were happy with the property that we had. We had our municipal golf course, that was very beneficial to us, and we felt that if the military wanted to transfer, this was acceptable to us and, as I pointed out, this went through four different city administrations. Some city administrations were more or less following a favorable administration. Others were completely new city administrations that were opposed to the previous one.
We went through one period of one whole city administration who were oposed to the land transfer because it was not in the best interest of El Paso.
But I would say that the attitude of the city of El Paso is extremely favorable to the military.
Fort Bliss was there before El Paso was, and in most cases, such as this, anything fair and reasonable we go along with the military and with the Army, particularly Fort Bliss.
Mr. Philbin. Do you have any questions?
Mr. Doyle. May I inquire, what is the consideration for the cancellation of the reverter, if any?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. The consideration here would be, on the part of the city of El Paso, none, because we feel it shouldn't have been placed there in the first place.
The Department of Army said they would place it there as a matter of policy and procedure only.
Mr. DOYLE. As recently as 1957 it was placed there.
Mr. DoYLE. Under the statement on page 3, item 1, of the statement the city would not permit the use of parcel C of any development which would be noxious.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. This is true. We accept this.
Mr. Doyle. So, apparently you are going to govern parcel C under the same restrictions
Mr. RUTHERFORD. On removing the reverter.
Mr. Doyle. So, you want to be released from the technical restrictions and yet you are binding yourself to carry them out without the reverter being there.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. This is true. And the purpose of removing the reverter is so that those in the city of El Paso who desire to industrialize this area can have a clear title.
Mr. DOYLE. So, the city intends to sell this property?
Mr. Doyle. Which were, in fact, the same restrictions for which the reverter clause would come into effect in case of violation?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Yes, not the taxiway. However, the restrictions on the 500 feet, noxious odors, would be in effect on the new purchasers.
Mr. DoYLE. I assume therefore that the city by its records already made or to be made in this official record have or will bind themselves under the representation you have made in item 1 on page 3.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Yes, sir. Copy of the agreement is in the file signed byMr. DÖYLE. It is already executed?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Already executed. It was executed June 21, 1957, by the mayor of El Paso and the mayor pro tem of El Paso, who is now the mayor of El Paso and in behalf of Secretary Brucker, Secretary of the Army at the time.
Mr. DoYLE. Why should this be an officers golf course, why isn't it used for the benefit of the taxpayers of El Paso?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. This you would have to address to the Army, because it was our understanding this would be placed in military use and, of course, I presume this technically is military use.
Mr. DOYLE. A golf course?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Yes. But it was being used as a golf course, municipal golf course. We desired to continue it. There is need for this recreation in this particular area.
The Army-commanding general of Fort Bliss at this particular time—we have gone through about six at Fort Bliss—they prevailed upon the city fathers to transfer this land for a more convenient and, I might say, a better arrangement as to the governing of the militarystreets, military control of the traffic in this area-and it was our understanding that they were going to destroy the golf course and make a hardware military installation out of it, but since that period it continues in the same position as the city had it except that it is an of
cers golf course—which I am sure is required for the military but this is a subject for the military.
Mr. DOYLE. I should think it would be subject for the military and the city to get either to see that it is used for its original purpose instead of an exclusive officers' golf course, if you pardon the suggestion.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. I should amend my statement to say not an officers' golf course, it is a military gold course-it is changed from civilian to military golf course.
Mr. Doyle. So that has been perfectly agreeable with the city administration?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Not perfectly agreeable but we have accepted it.
Mr. WICKERSHAM. One question. In all probability the city has given other lands to the military in the past, has it not?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Yes. I think the compatibility of the civilian population at Fort Bliss, I would say, is most unusually cordial and this is an accommodation to the military, and we feel that this is, I might say, in the area office and regional office and between the city of El Paso and Fort Bliss, but I don't think on the Washington level, and the Secretary of the Army, in their cold printed reports properly reflect the real basis of this, that was that the city of El Paso reluitantly, but through accommodation and cordiality exchanged this land in the first place and then placed unusual and, I would say, restrictions that are not fair or reasonable.
Even at this we are acceptable. We do like to have the reverter clause removed. We didn't impose a reverter clause in case the golf course was not utilized in the strict military service.
If this had been done, the golf course would have reverted back to the city of El Paso, because they have violated the understanding that the city of El Paso received in the first place on the golf course,
Mr. WICKERSHAM. That is all. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CLANCY. I am sorry I am late. I would ask how many acres are involved?
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Approximately 41 acres in this bill. This only refers to what is referred to as parcel C, which is a very small angle of property.
Mr. PHILBIN. If there are no further questions, thank you very much, Mr. Rutherford, for your very able statement.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. (The letter above referred to, dated July 26, 1962, is as follows:)
JULY 26, 1962. Hon. J. T. RUTHERFORD, House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR J. T.: Thank you for your letter of July 24, with copy of Mr. Vance's letter of July 20 to the Honorable Carl Vinson, attached.
Immediately upon reading Mr. Vance's letter the members of the public service board (El Paso Water Utilities) were contacted. They have authorized me as their attorney for and on their behalf to advise you that they have no objection to your proposed bill being amended to include section 2 a and b as set forth on page 3 of Mr. Vance's letter.
However, with reference to the city paying the United States the fair market value of the property, we wish to point out several facts which the board feels would justify payment of only a nominal consideration for the release or quitclaim we are seeking.
When the city of El Paso acquired parcel C, along with the other parcels A and B in the deed dated June 21, 1957, it was the result of a land swap initiated by the Army (Fort Bliss) who was most anxious to acquire the golf course land, which land the Army received. The golf course land was public service board land although title was in the city of El Paso. The public service board, as you know, is an agency of the city which operates the city's municipal water and sewer system.
The public service board did not want to give up the land comprising the golf course. But since Fort Bliss was pressing the city fathers vigorously because it felt an urgent need to acquire this golf course for the Army, the board to accommodate the Army and in the spirit of the good-neighbor relations always prevalent between the city and Fort Bliss, reluctantly agreed to the land swap.
In the land swap the public service board was to receive from the United States water rights to 242 sections of Army lands in the Logan Heights and Casner Range areas, with well sites and easements for pipelines from such well sites to our water system. The post engineer opposed any granting of water rights. The board was prevailed upon and urged to go ahead with the swap, which it did, although in doing so it was giving up that which was most essential to it in the operation of the water system—valuable lands and water rights on this land deeded to the United States and valuable water rights, well sites, and easements it did not receive from the United States.
When the swap took place June 21, 1957, the lands comprising the golf course were valued at $1,118,880. The land we got from the United States were valued at $1,110,400. Today the golf course appraised value is $6,769,228. Today the lands we received in the swap are appraised at $4,968,761.
The board feels the foregoing should be taken into consideration by the Goverpinent at this time if a cash price is to be considered for a release or conveyance to the city of the conditions and restrictions pertaining to parcel C.
If any further information is required or if we can be of any further assistance, please let me hear from you. With warm regards and best wishes, I remain, Sincerely yours,
MORRIS A. GALATZAN. Mr. Phillin. We will hear the next witness, who is Mr. Loney W. Hart of the Corps of Engineers.
Mr. Hart, come over and be seated and proceed with your statement. Also Miss Cross.
STATEMENT OF LONEY W. HART, REAL PROPERTY DIVISION, CORPS
OF ENGINEERS, ACCOMPANIED BY MISS LAURA E. CROSS
Mr. HART. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am Loney W. Hart, Chief of the Real Estate Legislative Services Office, Office, Chief of Engineers, Department of the Army. The Department of the Army has been designated as the representative of the Department of Defense for this legislation. I represent the Department of the Army for that purpose. I have with me Miss Laura Cross, also from the Office, Chief of Engineers.
I have a brief prepared statement which I would like to present to the committee.
The purpose of this bill is generally as stated in its title. More specifically, this bill would direct the Secretary of the Army to grant to the city of El Paso, Tex., a release as to parcel C of certain restrictions reserved by the United States in a quitclaim deed to the city entered into under authority of the act of August 2, 1956 (70 Stat. 950).
The act of August 2, 1956, authorized an exchange of lands between the United States and the city of El Paso, Tex., on condition that the deed provide (1) that the city of El Paso agree to construction by the Department of the Air Force of an interconnecting taxiway between Biggs Air Force Base and El Paso International Airport, (2) the use of El Paso International Airport by military aircraft; and (3) that the property shall revert to the United States at the election of the Secretary of the Army for breach of any of the terms and conditions by the city of El Paso, its successors, and assigns.
Pursuant to this act, the Secretary of the Army on June 21, 1957, executed a deed conveying to the city of El Paso 2,255.453 acres of land in El Paso County, together with improvements thereon, comprising portions of the Fort Bliss and Biggs Air Force installations, subject to certain terms and conditions, including those required under the enabling act. The lands involved were in three separate areas designated as parcels A, B, and C. Parcels A and B, aggregating 2,213.523 acres of land, have been utilized by the city for expansion of the El Paso International Airport. Parcel C, the property referred to in this bill, comprises 41.93 acres of land and is separated from the westerly area of Fort Bliss by the Southern Pacific Railway.
On June 27, 1957, the city accepted this deed and on the same date executed a quitclaim deed conveying to the United States fee title to 318.88 acres of land adjacent to Fort Bliss as its part of the exchange transaction. Concurrently, the United States and the city of El Paso also entered into an ancillary agreement concerning the land exchange, incorporating therein provisions that (1) the city would not permit the use of parcel C for industrial use or such uses as will be noxious by the emissions of smoke, noises, odors, or dust, and (2) the city would notify and consult with the Department of the Army before leasing or disposing of the land conveyed by the Government under the deed of June 21, 1957.
The Department of the Army has been advised that the city of El Paso has entered into a contract with the Southern Union Gas Co. for sale of 8.358 acres in parcel C and that the company intends to erect warehouse and terminal facilities on the site. However, the prospective purchaser desires to obtain a title clear of the reverter