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once made evident. The land under water is of course less valuable than the land above water, and it is purchased with the purpose of spending money on it until it becomes as valuable. If the Corporation Counsel's statements are to be taken seriously as made, with a full knowledge of the facts, it would mean that the City was anxious to pay to the Astoria Gas Company for about one-twenty-fifth of their property very nearly ten times what they have just paid for the entire property. The mere statement of the case is a sufficient commentary upon it.
The adjacent upland has just been assessed by the City authorities at a valuation of $833.00 an acre. The land under water cannot possibly reach this value until at great expense it has been filled in and made part of the upland. Yet the Corporation Counsel, according to his statement, deems it now worth very nearly $200,000 an acre. Of course, as a matter of fact it cannot possibly be worth as much as $833.90 an acre, and inasmuch as the expenditure of a large amount of money upon it is the indispensable prerequisite to its having any value at all, it will be obviously unjust in the extreme to rate it higher than a third or fourth of the value of the adjacent upland. I have consulted with or heard some of the best real estate brokers who have done business in the neighborhood of Astoria and some of the most intelligent men of property who have lands in the vicinity who have themselves been granted riparian rights — men like Roe H. Smith & Co. of Long Island City and Nesmith Brothers of 28 South St., New York City. Messrs. Roe H. Smith & Co. write that less than four years ago they tried to dispose of the whole property now owned by the Astoria Gas Company, including the riparian rights, for $400,000, and were unable
to do so, and point out what they call the utter absurdity of claiming that an insignificant part of this property can be worth nearly ten times as much as the infinitely more valuable whole.
It appears then from your letters and from the statements of facts which you have submitted, and which I have verified, that in the first place, the Land Board in dealing with the Astoria Company has followed out precisely the general policy which has always been followed out by the State in dealing with riparian lands, and which has specifically been followed since the Greater New York charter went into effect in dealing with these lands contained within the Greater New York. Furthermore, it appears that the only difference you have made is that the price charged is very much higher than the average price charged and considerably higher than has been ever charged for so large a tract. It furthermore appears, that within the last two years within the limits of the Greater New York, over thirty grants of this kind have been made at an average price of $87.00 per acre, of which nine grants were of from ten to forty odd acres apiece, and though some of these lands were probably of greater value than the land asked for by the Astoria Company, for none of them was so high a price charged; the only instances where a higher price was charged being where a very small amount, usually a fraction of an acre, was granted. It appears furthermore, that the Astoria grant has been made upon less instead of upon more favorable conditions than was the case with previous grants, the Board having adopted what I regard as the eminently proper policy of making grants of this nature conditional upon the improvement being actually made. Furthermore, it appears that the adjacent upland is assessed at about $833.00 an acre, and the price of the land granted is put at $250.00, while no estimate puts the amount of expenditure in order to redeem an acre and make it as valuable as an acre of the adjacent upland at less than a thousand dollars. So that the sum of $250.00 is certainly a reasonable valuation from the standpoint of the public, though it is requiring from the Astoria Gas Company a higher payment than from other companies, under similar circumstances. Furthermore, it appears that it is greatly to the interest of the community to have the land improved and that the land will be improved by the Astoria Company; whereas there is not the slightest evidence to show that the City has ever so much as considered the possibility of taking hold and improving it. It appears furthermore that only the City or the Astoria Gas Company could take the land, and that the City could take it only by paying its full value to the Astoria Gas Company.
It further appears from the letter of the Attorney-General that the Corporation Counsel has had ample time in which to proceed had he been merely anxious to protect the interests of the City of New York, and that he has taken a wholly different stand in relation to the Astoria Gas Company, which was opposed by a rival corporation of great wealth and political power, from the stand he took in reference to other similar grants. The Attorney General's office has shown its willingness to aid the Corporation Counsel in bringing the matter before the courts for their prompt consideration and determination, but the inactivity of the Corporation Counsel's office has been such that the test has never been made.
Such being the case, it appears that the action of the Land Board is eminently proper; that no possible damage to the City of New York can come from it, and on the contrary great benefit must ensue to the city because of it; and that for the Land Board to have failed in doing as it has done, would have been wholly unwarranted from the standpoint of the State, and would have been of benefit to no one except a wealthy rival corporation. I shall therefore sign the grant.
Very truly yours,
PROCLAMATION ORDERING SPECIAL ELEC
TION FOR ASSEMBLYMAN IN THE THIRTY-
STATE OF NEW YORK
WHEREAS due notice has been given of the death of EDWIN C. STONE who was duly elected to the office of Member of Assembly for the Thirty-first Assembly District of the county of New York on the seventh day of November in the year 1899; and
WHEREAS his death occurred before the commencement of his official term and said office is now vacant; and
WHEREAS it is provided by the laws of this State that in such case a special election shall be had;
Now THEREFORE, I, Theodore Roosevelt, Governor of the State of New York, in pursuance of the requirement of section IV of chapter 680 of the laws of 1892 known as The Election Law do hereby order and proclaim that an election for Member of Assembly in the place of the said Edwin C. Stone be held in the Thirty-first Assembly District of the county of New York on Tuesday the twenty-third day of January 1900, such election to be conducted in the mode prescribed by law for the election of members of Assembly.