« PreviousContinue »
REGIONAL CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE
THURSDAY, JULY 22, 1937
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10:30 a. m., Hon. Joseph J. Mansfield (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. We will continue the hearings on H. R. 7365 and H. R. 7863.
Mr. BEITER. Mr. Chairman, pursuant to a conversation I had with you last week, I have asked witnesses to appear this morning from the Niagara Frontier Planning Board, and I believe an arrangement was made whereby we would hear them.
Mr. Chauncey J. Hamlin, the chairman of the Niagara Frontier Planning Board, will present the witnesses, and he will then testify.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Hamlin, we will be very glad to hear you at this time.
STATEMENT OF CHAUNCEY J. HAMLIN, CHAIRMAN, NIAGARA
FRONTIER PLANNING BOARD, BUFFALO, N. Y. Mr. Hamlin. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I would like to very briefly describe first whom I represent.
By chapter 267 of the laws of 1925, passed by the Legislature of the State of New York, there was created the first regional planning official body in the United States. It is known as the Niagara Frontier Planning Board.
This body consists of the six duly elected mayors of the six cities which lie within the area of Erie and Niagara Counties, the city of Buffalo, the city of Tonawanda, and the city of Lackawanna, which lie in Erie County; and the city of Niagara Falls, the city of North Tonawanda, and the city of Lockport, which lie in Niagara County.
Our counties in New York State are managed by elected boards of supervisors. The boards of supervisors of Erie and Niagara Counties each appoint three supervisors to represent the interests of their respective counties. These 12 men, the 6 supervisors and the 6 mayors of the 6 cities constitute the Niagara Frontier Planning Board. So it is representative of the political subdivisions of the Niagara frontier.
We call the Niagara frontier Erie and Niagara Counties, which are the two counties that lie at the western end of New York State and face upon the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie. It is the second largest metropolitan area in New York State.
The CHAIRMAN. And perhaps in the United States? Mr. HAMLIN. No; there are larger areas. Mr. CARTER. You say there are two counties? Mr. Hamlin. Yes; there are two counties, Erie County and Niagara County. Within those two counties lie these six cities. This board of 12 men, the 6 mayors and the 6 supervisors
Mr. Smith (interposing). What are the six cities?
Mr. HAMLIN. The six cities are Buffalo, Lackawanna, Lockport, Niagara Falls, Tonawanda, and North Tonawanda. Three of the cities lie in Erie County and three lie in Niagara County.
This statute was passed in 1925. These 12 men meet and choose a thirteenth man to preside over their deliberations. It has been my honor to serve as the thirteenth man and the chairman of this board since its organization in 1925, something over 12 years.
The purpose of the Niagara Frontier Planning Board is to conduct regional planning studies within the region that is committed to our
These six cities are in process of developing a metropolitan area. Some two or three of the cities are practically contiguous at the present moment in their development. Two of them are so absolutely contiguous that the city line runs between them.
Mr. Smith. What is the approximate population of the six cities?
Mr. HAMLIN. About 600,000. I think the total population is close to a million.
Our board has an office, it has engineers, and we are supported by appropriations that are made to us by the various municipalities and counties, and we have conducted regional planning studies, and as a result of those regional planning studies a number of major improvements have been made on our frontier.
We are keenly interested, of course, in the development of our area.
If I may now be permitted, Mr. Chairman, I would like to introduce our chief engineer, Mr. Frederick K. Wing, who for many years has been a practicing civil engineer in the city of Buffalo, and who will have a few remarks to make in regard to the bills that are before you for consideration.
The CHAIRMAN. Does your organization take into consideration the preservation of the beauty of Niagara Falls ?
Mr. Hamlin. Yes; we are keenly interested in the preservation and the beauty of Niagara Falls. One of our principal projects was the development of bridges across Grand Island, which I think you are familiar with in this committee, because I believe the matter was before the Committee on Rivers and Harbors in connection with the granting of permission for the construction of the bridges.
We are also interested in the State of New York in developing two great State parks on Grand Island as a part of the general development of our frontier area.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I would like to present Mr. Wing.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you give the reporter your full name and state the capacity in which you appear?
STATEMENT OF FREDERICK K. WING, CHIEF ENGINEER, NIAGARA
FRONTIER PLANNING BOARD, BUFFALO, N. Y. Mr. Wing. Mr. Chairman, my name is Frederick K. Wing. I am chief engineer of the Niagara Frontier Planning Board.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the Committee on Rivers and Harbors of the House of Representatives, as a representative of the Niagara Frontier Planning Board of Buffalo, N. Y., I wish to make a few remarks in regard to the Mansfield bill, H. R. 7365.
This act provides for the creation of seven regional planning agencies which will function in the following districts: 1, Atlantic seaboard; 2, Great Lakes-Ohio; 3, Tennessee Valley; 4, Missouri Valley; 5, Arkansas Valley; 6, Southwestern Valley; 7, Columbia Valley.
They are all indicated on the map which is before you.
The President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints a planning director for each of the planning agenciesexcept where a director has already been appointed for the Tennessee Valley agency. The President may also establish two or more regional conservation committees for each planning agency. The director shall be the chairman of these committees and their chief administrative officer, while all matters of general policy are considered and determined by the committees.
This act is quite similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933 as amended in 1935. The latter act, however, covers only about one-half of Tennessee and small portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky, while the Mansfield Act covers all the seven regional planning districts into which the United States of America is divided.
According to this act the powers and functions of the Tennessee Valley Planning Agency, covering district no. 3, will be exercised and performed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, as its Board of Directors shall direct, thereby perpetuating that Authority and enlarging its territory.
The purpose and policy of this act is to “develop, integrate, and coordinate plans, projects, and activities for or incidental to the promotion of navigation, the control and prevention of floods, the safeguarding of navigable waters, and the reclamation of the public lands”, in order to (1) aid and protect commerce among the several States; (2) strengthen the national defense; (3) conserve the water, soil, mineral, and forest resources of the Nation; (4) stabilize employment; (5) relieve unemployment; (6) and otherwise protect commerce among the States; (7) provide for the national defense; (8) and promote the general welfare of the United States.
The act provides that these seven “regional planning agencies shall be subject to the supervision and control of the President or of such national planning agency as the President may designate” for the purpose of insuring conformity of regional plans to a national policy and appropriate coordination of regional plans, having due regard for regional and local requirements and conditions.
This act provides that each regional planning agency shall study and survey projects within its jurisdiction which have been undertaken or planned by the various departments and agencies of the United States relating to navigation, floods, stream pollution, reclamation of the public lands, conservation of various resources of the Nation, droughts, dust storms, soil improvement, and erosion. Each planning agency is also to endeavor to coordinate and integrate the plans of these various departments and agencies with the cooperation of the field offices and services of these agencies of the United States, calling upon such offices and services for any relevant data and information, it being the duty of such agencies to have their field offices and services take such action as may be necessary or appropriate to cooperate with each regional planning agency.
The above paragraph indicates that these planning agencies may virtually take over and use all the organization and information of all the various departments of the United States such as War Department, Department of Interior, Treasury Department, Agriculture Department, Conservation Department, or any other department interested in or in any way controlling the functions incident to any of the projects or activities which will be under control of these seven regional planning agencies.
The result of this will be that these various departments and agencies of the United States will be split up and put into the service and under the control of these seven different planning agencies; and these various governmental departments and agencies, which have been gathering data for generations and have been functioning so well, will be broken up and the whole scheme of departmental activities will be set at naught. In other words the United States of America will start anew and establish a form of government so different from the present one that one cannot help being skeptical of its success.
Surely six appointees to administration jobs, and these may be political appointees, cannot serve these districts as well as War Department engineers who through study and service have reached the top. Their experience and training fits them for the greater portion of the very work set up for the director and the conservation committee to perform. The members of the committee being appointed by the President and receiving no compensation for their services, except a per diem, plus expenses, may be political appointees. How can they be expected to be competent to perform the services that will be required of them!
I might state that the only qualification I can read in the Mansfield bill as to the director of the planning agency is that he shall not own any stock in a public-utility company, and he must be heart and soul in sympathy with the act. That same qualification applies to the committeemen.
Is it not far better to leave matters stand as at present than to appoint 6 directors and from 12 to 48 conservation committeemen who will have to be shown, rather than direct, how the various objects called for in this act may be carried out?
While the procedure as outlined above affects the United States agencies, and this act would have the power to control them, the situation as regards possible conflict with the governments of the various States, and all of their departments, leaves considerable doubt as to overlapping by the various functions which these seven regional planning agencies are supposed to carry on.
In the State of New York, for instance, there are the following State departments which have functions that would certainly be in conflict or overlapped by those of the Great Lakes-Ohio Valley Planning Agency and the Atlantic Seaboard Planning Agency into which the State of New York would find itself divided.
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENTS
1. Agriculture and markets.
The establishment of these departments of New York State is the result of long experience and study by those who have been entrusted with the various activities carried on by the State through its official departments and commissions.
In regard to agriculture the State has established at Cornell University and Syracuse University great colleges of agriculture to educate the youth of this and other States who have a leaning toward that type of work. It has also established many experimental stations in various parts of the State where crop culture has been tried with the soil local to that section and with the various fertilizers and plant food recommended for experiment. That State has also established short-term courses for farmers at off seasons, which are largely attended and where the most up-to-date methods are taught relating to soil preservation, restoration, and erosion, and all phases of economical farming.
Mr. BEITER. At that point, can you tell us how much the State of New York annually appropriates for that purpose ?
Mr. Wing. I cannot tell you offhand. It is a very large amount.
Mr. BEITER. Can you get that information and insert it in the record ?
Mr. WING. Yes, sir. Mr. DONDERO. Do you think the passage of this bill, or similar legislation, would have a tendency to centralize in Washington bureaucratic control over all of these activities in your State ?
Mr. Wing. Positively so; and that is why I am commenting on the different departments of the State of New York, taking that as a typical State, referring to those departments which would be in conflict or be overlapped by the activities of these seven regional planning agencies.
Forestry is another subject in which this State department has been vitally interested. Hundreds of thousands of small trees have been sent to the farmers and planted in areas not suited for cultivation. Reforestation has been going on for years in various parks and reservations which in a measure has tended to increase the water resources of the State.
The conservation department of the State would certainly come into conflict with the two regional planning agencies into which