A-59202, JANUARY 3, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 504

A-59202: Jan 3, 1935

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VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR REPLACING BRIDGE THE APPROPRIATIONS UNDER THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE OF MATERIAL WITH WHICH TO REPLACE A BRIDGE WITHIN THE EXTERIOR BOUNDARIES OF A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION RESERVATION OWNED BY THE UNITED STATES. WHERE IT IS SHOWN THAT THE BRIDGE IS NOT MENTIONED IN THE DEED TO THE UNITED STATES AND THAT THE COUNTY ROAD RUNS OVER THE BRIDGE AND IS USED BY THE GENERAL PUBLIC. AS FOLLOWS: YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER APPROPRIATIONS MADE TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF MATERIALS TO RECONSTRUCT A BRIDGE OVER THE CONHOCTON RIVER WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT'S RESERVATION AT VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY.

A-59202, JANUARY 3, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 504

VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR REPLACING BRIDGE THE APPROPRIATIONS UNDER THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE OF MATERIAL WITH WHICH TO REPLACE A BRIDGE WITHIN THE EXTERIOR BOUNDARIES OF A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION RESERVATION OWNED BY THE UNITED STATES, WHERE IT IS SHOWN THAT THE BRIDGE IS NOT MENTIONED IN THE DEED TO THE UNITED STATES AND THAT THE COUNTY ROAD RUNS OVER THE BRIDGE AND IS USED BY THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, JANUARY 3, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 8, 1934, AS FOLLOWS:

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER APPROPRIATIONS MADE TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF MATERIALS TO RECONSTRUCT A BRIDGE OVER THE CONHOCTON RIVER WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT'S RESERVATION AT VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, BATH, NEW YORK. STEUBEN COUNTY, T.E.R.A. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE HAS AGREED TO FURNISH THE LABOR FOR THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THIS BRIDGE IN ACCORDANCE WITH T.E.R.A. RULES, IF THE COST OF MATERIALS CAN BE MADE BY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THIS MATERIAL COST WOULD NOT BE OVER $15,000.

A PLOT PLAN OF THE RESERVATION REFERRED TO IS ATTACHED AND FROM IT WILL BE SEEN THAT THE BRIDGE IN QUESTION, INDICATED AS "ENTRANCE BRIDGE" IS WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT'S RESERVATION. THIS PROPERTY WAS FORMERLY OCCUPIED BY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION UNDER LEASE ENTERED INTO BETWEEN THE BOARD OF MANAGERS OF THE NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS AND THE STATE OF NEW YORK--- FOR SUCCESSIVE TERMS OF 10 AND 40 YEARS, FINALLY EXPIRING FEBRUARY 26, 1979. THIS LEASE WAS MADE AND ACCEPTED UPON THE CONDITION THAT "SUCH CAMP SHALL BE MAINTAINED BY THE LESSEE DURING THE TERM OF THIS LEASE * * *.' FOLLOWING THE EXECUTION OF THIS LEASE THE ADJUTANT GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK IN A COMMUNICATION DATED APRIL 29, 1929, ADDRESSED TO THE COMMANDANT OF THE STATE CAMP FOR VETERANS, BATH, NEW YORK (WHICH WAS THE DESIGNATION OF THE PROPERTY PRIOR TO THE TIME THAT IT WAS LEASED TO THE GOVERNMENT) STATED:

"YOU ARE, THEREFORE, HEREBY AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO TURN OVER TO THE REPRESENTATIVE OF SAID BOARD OF MANAGERS THE STATE CAMP FOR VETERANS AT BATH, NEW YORK, SUCH TRANSFER TO INCLUDE GROUNDS AND STRUCTURES AND ALSO ALL PERSONAL PROPERTY, EQUIPMENT, AND FACILITIES APPURTENANT TO, CONNECTED WITH AND/OR INCIDENTAL AND NECESSARY TO THE CAMP * * *.'

IT APPEARS THAT ON APRIL 9, 1929, THE ADJUTANT GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK RAISED A QUESTION WITH THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL WITH RESPECT TO INTERPRETATION OF THE STATE LAW (CHAPTER 33 OF THE LAWS OF 1929) UNDER WHICH THE PROPERTY WAS LEASED TO THE "UNITED STATES OR TO THE BOARD OF MANAGERS OF THE NATIONAL HOME FOR THE DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS," FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING THE SCOPE OF THE PROPERTY WITHIN THE ESTABLISHED BOUNDARIES THEREOF TO BE TRANSFERRED TO THE GOVERNMENT. REPLY TO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL'S COMMUNICATION THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IN A LETTER DATED APRIL 16, 1929, STATED, AMONG OTHER THINGS:

"IT SEEMS TO ME THAT A REASONABLE, COMMON-SENSE, LOGICAL, CONSISTENT, AND PROPER CONSTRUCTION OF THE INTENT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT OF CHAPTER 33, LAWS 1929, WAS TO PERMIT AND AUTHORIZE A TEMPORARY COMMISSION TO LEASE, NOT SIMPLY AND ONLY THE BARE GROUNDS AND EMPTY STRUCTURES OF THE STATE CAMP FOR VETERANS AT BATH, NEW YORK, BUT TO LEASE THE CAMP "AS IS," AS A WHOLE, AS A GOING CONCERN OR INSTITUTION, WITH ALL THE PERSONAL PROPERTY, EQUIPMENT, AND FACILITIES INCIDENTAL TO AND CONNECTED WITH THE CAMP AS A CONTINUED AND CONTINUING CAMP OR HOME, SO AS TO ENABLE THE FEDERAL AUTHORITIES TO IMMEDIATELY TAKE UP AND CARRY ON THE WORK OF THE CAMP WITHOUT ANY INTERRUPTION OR DELAY.

"IT WAS CLEARLY THE INTENT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT OF CHAPTER 240, LAWS 1929, * * * WHICH ACT WAS THE BASIS OF CHAPTER 33, LAWS 1929, TO TURN THE CAMP OVER IN ITS ENTIRETY AND AS A WHOLE.

"I, THEREFORE, ADVISE THAT IN MY OPINION CHAPTER 33, LAWS 1929, CONTEMPLATES AND AUTHORIZES THE LEASE AND SURRENDER OF ALL THE PERSONAL PROPERTY, EQUIPMENT, AND FACILITIES UPON, CONNECTED WITH, AND INCIDENTAL TO THE CAMP, AS WELL AS THE GROUNDS AND STRUCTURES.'

PURSUANT TO A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE LAND OFFICE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK ADOPTED JANUARY 23, 1933, AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF CHAPTER 235 OF THE LAWS OF NEW YORK 1932, THERE WAS CONVEYED IN FEE SIMPLE TO THE UNITED STATES BY LETTERS PATENT DATED JANUARY 24, 1933, THE PROPERTY OCCUPIED BY THE GOVERNMENT UNDER THE LEASE REFERRED TO "TOGETHER WITH THE BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES THEREON" AND "WITH ALL AND SINGULAR THE RIGHTS, HEREDITAMENTS, AND APPURTENANCES TO THE SAME BELONGING OR IN ANY WISE APPERTAINING * * *.' WHILE NO RESERVATION WAS MADE IN THESE LETTERS PATENT FOR THE ROADWAY AND BRIDGE SHOWN ON THE ATTACHED PLOT PLAN THE COUNTY ATTORNEY BY LETTER OF AUGUST 4, 1934 (COPY ATTACHED), INDICATES THAT THE ROAD IS SUBJECT TO AN EASEMENT OF THE PUBLIC.

THE EXISTING BRIDGE AT VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, BATH, NEW YORK, IS CONSIDERED UNSAFE FOR TRAFFIC AND ITS USE BY VEHICLES GOING TO AND FROM THE FACILITY IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE TO THE PROPER OPERATION OF THE FACILITY. THE REPLACEMENT OF THIS BRIDGE, AS HERETOFORE INDICATED, WAS TAKEN UP WITH THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND WHILE THEY HAVE REFUSED TO REPLACE THE STRUCTURE THEY HAVE OFFERED, AS PREVIOUSLY STATED, TO FURNISH THE NECESSARY LABOR FOR SUCH REPLACEMENT.

THE ATTACHED COPY OF LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 15, 1934, FROM THE MANAGER, VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, BATH, NEW YORK, SHOWS THE DISTRIBUTION OF TRAFFIC OVER THIS BRIDGE. IT WILL BE NOTED FROM THIS LETTER THAT 98 PERCENT OF ALL TRAFFIC PASSING OVER THE BRIDGE IS CLASSIFIED BY THE MANAGER AS "FACILITY TRAFFIC.' WHILE ONLY 4 PERCENT OF THIS TRAFFIC CONSISTS OF GOVERNMENT VEHICLES, CONSIDERATION MUST NECESSARILY BE GIVEN TO THE FACT THAT THE REMAINING 94 PERCENT OF THE "FACILITY TRAFFIC" IS ESSENTIAL TO THE OPERATION OF THE FACILITY IN THAT IT INVOLVES THE DELIVERY OF SUPPLIES AND THE GOING TO AND FROM THE RESERVATION OF STATION EMPLOYEES, PATIENTS, AND THEIR VISITORS. IT IS ALSO DEEMED PERTINENT TO BRING OUT IN THIS CONNECTION THAT A PASSENGER BUS OPERATING BETWEEN THE FACILITY AND BATH, NEW YORK, MAKES TWELVE ROUND TRIPS A DAY ACROSS THE BRIDGE. THE REPLACEMENT OF THIS BRIDGE IS CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL FOR THE PROTECTION OF LIFE AND PROPERTY.

YOUR PROMPT ATTENTION TO THIS MATTER WILL BE APPRECIATED.

IN A LETTER DATED AUGUST 4, 1934, THE ATTORNEY FOR THE COUNTY OF STEUBEN, N.Y., STATES AS FOLLOWS:

YOUR LETTER TO R. B. OLDFIELD, COUNTY CLERK, WAS RECEIVED.

THE HIGHWAY LEADING FROM THE END OF BELFAST STREET ACROSS THE HOME GROUNDS IS A TOWN HIGHWAY. IN THESE CASES, THE TOWN DOES NOT OWN THE LAND, BUT THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OWNS THE LAND WHERE THE ROAD IS LOCATED ON THE GROUNDS, SUBJECT TO THE EASEMENT OF THE PUBLIC IN THE HIGHWAY. OTHER WORDS, THIS IS ONE OF THE OLD TOWN HIGHWAYS WHEREIN ONLY AN EASEMENT IS HAD FOR ROAD PURPOSES.

PRIOR TO 1928 THE BRIDGE WAS CONSTRUCTED AND MAINTAINED AS A TOWN BRIDGE. IN 1928 THE LEGISLATURE PROVIDED THAT WHEN ANY SUCH BRIDGE IS CONDEMNED AND REPAIRED, THEREAFTER IT SHALL BE REPAIRED AND MAINTAINED BY THE COUNTY, IF IT HAS A SPAN OF OVER 25 FEET. THE ONLY MAINTENANCE THE TOWN HAS IS THE PLANKING OF SUCH BRIDGES. THE PASSING OF THIS BRIDGE TO COUNTY MAINTENANCE WAS BY OPERATION OF LAW SOMETIME AGO WHEN IT WAS REPAIRED BY THE COUNTY AS BEING UNSAFE. MR. KELLOGG COULD PROBABLY GIVE THE DATE. THIS PROVISION IS LAW IN SECTION 19 OF THE HIGHWAY LAW.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE DEED TO THE UNITED STATES DID NOT MENTION THE BRIDGE AND COUNTY ROAD, THE INFERENCE BEING THAT THE BRIDGE AND ROAD REMAINED THE PROPERTY OF THE STATE OR COUNTY AND THAT THE OBLIGATION FOR REPAIRS WOULD APPEAR TO REMAIN WITH THE COUNTY AS STATED BY THE ATTORNEY. WHILE THE FACTS ARE NOT CLEARLY DISCLOSED, IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE COST OF IMPROVING AND REPAIRING THE COUNTY ROAD AND THE BRIDGE HERE IN QUESTION IS PAID FROM GENERAL REVENUES AND NOT ASSESSED AGAINST THE ABUTTING PROPERTY OWNERS. THEREFORE, THE FACT THAT THE FEDERAL PROPERTY ABUTS THE BRIDGE AND ROAD ON BOTH SIDES DOES NOT, OF ITSELF, OBLIGATE THE GOVERNMENT TO REPLACE OR REPAIR THE BRIDGE ANY MORE THAN IF THE ABUTTING PROPERTY WERE PRIVATELY OWNED. NEITHER DOES THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS THE GREATEST USER OF THE BRIDGE, SO OBLIGATE PUBLIC FUNDS.

YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT, ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS PRESENTED, THE APPROPRIATIONS UNDER THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE OF MATERIALS WITH WHICH TO REPLACE THE BRIDGE IN QUESTION.