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SUBCOMMITTEE NO. 2 CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 11887, TO PROVIDE FOR THE CONVEYANCE OF ALL RIGHT, TITLE, AND INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES RESERVED OR RETAINED IN CERTAIN LANDS HERETOFORE CONVEYED TO THE CITY OF EL PASO, TEX.; AND H.R. 12081, TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY TO CONVEY CERTAIN LAND AND EASEMENT INTERESTS AT HUNTER-LIGGETT MILITARY RESERVATION FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE SAN ANTONIO DAM AND RESERVOIR PROJECT IN EXCHANGE FOR OTHER PROJERTY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE No. 2, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, August 1, 1962. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., Hon. Philip J. Philbin, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.
Mr. PHILBIN. The committee will come to order.
We have two bills on the agenda this morning. We would like to get them completed, if possible, before we adjourn today.
The first one is H.R. 11887, to provide for the conveyance of all right, title, and interest of the United States reserved or retained in certain lands heretofore conveyed to the city of El Paso, Tex.
(H.R. 11887 is as follows:)
(H.R. 11887, 87th Cong., 2d sess.)
A BILL To provide for the conveyance of all right, title, and interest of the United States
reserved or retained in certain lands heretofore conveyed to the city of El Paso, Texas Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Army is authorized and directed to convey to the city of El Paso, Texas, all of the right, title, and interest of the United States reserved or retained in parcel C by the quitclaim deed from the United States to the city of El Paso, Texas, dated June 27, 1957, entered into under authority of the Act of August 2, 1956 (70 Stat. 950; Public Law 929, Eighty-fourth Congress).
Mr. PHILBIN. We have two witnesses to testify on this bill, the first is our friend and esteemed colleague, and an able and distinguished colleague from Texas, Hon. J.T. Rutherford.
Congressman Rutherford, we would be very glad to have your views on this bill.
STATEMENT OF HON. J. T. RUTHERFORD, MEMBER OFF CONGRESS.
STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, first, this involves transfer of an interest in land between the city of El Paso, although the land actually is a part of the public service board—the city of El Paso holds title to it—and the military at Fort Bliss, Department of the Army.
The original request was embodied in a bill that I introduced in 1955, H.R. 5519, which was passed and is the act now of August 21, 1956 (70 Stat. 950), authorizing exchange of lands between the United States and the city of El Paso.
The present bill is a continuation of this transfer in that in the exchange of lands the quit claim deed had certain reservations on construction of a taxiway between Biggs Air Force Base, which is the SAC base adjacent to Fort Bliss, and the international airport by military aircraft.
This reservation has been agreed to. However, the military at this time has not constructed the runway.
There was also other considerations given.
The particular request we have concerns only what is called parcel C. Due to the desire on the part of the city of Æl Paso to industrialize in this particular area, we agreed to the reservations by the Department of the Army of retaining that the city agrees to foregoing any use of the property which will be noxious by the emissions of smoke, noises, odors, or dust, and also agrees to the limitation of structure of any building 500 feet or more above ground which would be incompatible with Biggs Air Force Base and with the military organization.
We accept, with reservations, and I would like to further explain, the so-called fair market value. I want to clearly state that we do accept this but feel like we ought to write a little legislative history here.
First, the city of El Paso agreed reluctantly to this transfer in the first place. This scans the period of four city administrations in El Paso.
The Army at Fort Bliss requested the transfer of this land, which was presently being used as a golf course, a municipal golf course, by the city of El Paso.
The city administration balked at the transfer and the military at Fort Bliss visited the city fathers and convinced them that this should be changed.
They subsequently agreed and a transfer of the land was accomplished. However, the reports from the Department of Army from the Washington level would leave the impression that the city of El Paso is possibly cast in the role of a culprit of attempting to get something that is not of fair market value and that the Army is reluctantly accepting the request by the city of El Paso.
To give you an indication, in 1955, when the golf course was in operation and the Army stated, "we desire this, we need this to improve our military posture," this municipal golf course was netting some $6,000 a year.
However, at the present time, since 1956, the present use which the military has applied to this golf course has been a golf course. It
has changed from a municipal golf course to an officers' club golf 13 course and to no other particular military value.
I would like to point out, also, when the swap took place on June | 21, 1957, the land comprising the golf course was valued at $1,118,880.
The land the city of El Paso received was valued at $1,110,400. Today the property is valued at $6,769,228.
The land received from the military in the swap is presently appraised at $4,968,761.
So, from the record, which is complete, the city of El Paso has | agreed to this transfer.
I might say it is a community with a cooperative spirit with the military and the Department of Army. However, the Department of Army records and reports do not exactly give the city of El Paso a fair shake in this. Of course, this is not the only land controversy we have in El Paso.
To one side we have the military and on the other side we have the Republic of Mexico, so we are accustomed to land disputes in the city of El Paso area.
I do not feel that the fair market value can be accurately measured and I feel that in the final analysis, that while we aceept the fair market value, the reverter clause preliminary is a policy on the Department of the Army. The fair market value phrase in the bill of the suggested amendment is also a policy. Therefore, I think that no conclusion can possibly be reached except that the city of El Paso agrees to the fair market value with the understanding that this is not nominal, and when I refer to nominal, $1 cost I think is a fair market value as to the interest that is being reverted to the city of El Paso.
This position that I take is in concurrence with the city of El Paso and the public service board and I submit for the record a letter from Mr. Morris Galatzan, who is authorized to speak both for the Public
Service Board of El Paso, who is the owner of the property, but the | title is held in the city of El Paso, and he is also authorized to speak for this, and he addresses himself to this particular legislation.
I have a map here if the committee desires it.
Mr. SLATINSHEK. Mr. Chairman, this map reflects the parcels of land in question.
The transaction which was authorized by Public Law 929 in the S4th Congress authorized transfer of the parcels of land that are hatched in color in this chart.
The two major portions of land here on the right of the chart are extensions of the runway area of El Paso National Airport and represent around 2,200 acres of land.
The area in the upper left-hand corner which is hatched in red identifies the municipal golf course. This is the property which was conveyed by the city as consideration for the green hatched area land. It represents roughly 318 acres of land.
In addition, the Army conveyed a small parcel of land which is identified as “Parcel C.” This is the small parcel approximating 12 acres and is the area in question.
It is this parcel of land which was part of the original transaction on which the legislation hopes to waive the reverter provision.