Hearings on the Purchase of Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road
Thursday, September 13, 1951
This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Debates over the purchase of the Rockaway Branch of the Long Island Rail Road. Contains fiery arguments and charges. See NYT article "Quill fails to bar offer to LIRR; City aides assail 'steal' charges" 1951-09-14 for context.
Begins without introduction. Moses is asked to speak. Lists his work with similar transit projects. Mayor Impellitteri has already appointed a commission to confer on the acquisition of this branch. That committee made a report of May 15 reviewing the history and recommended that the Board of Estimate authorize negotiations. An offer of $7 million, leading to the purchase of the Rockaway Branch.
The city, expecting the Rockaway Branch would be part of the rapid transit system, in 1933, made an agreement with the then-railroad to purchase the branch at a certain figure. Why? Because there was a realization even then that eventually that branch would have to be part of the system. 1938 amendment permitted state funds to be used for incidental improvements, which is important in the case of Rockaway. (grade crossing eliminations?)
What is the railroad's share of the grade crossing eliminations? Current offer of $8.5 million. The railroad's share of the grade crossing eliminations will be covered by the state.
List of figures: residents without access to railway, use of beaches, value of the line, cost of reproduction, railroad grade elimination figures, cost of safety devices.
Moses is interrupted by here by an unidentified speaker, who asks about condemnation. Moses clarifies that most of the money will be used to cover safety devices. Confirms current fares; confirms fare for this line.
Corporation counsel John P. McGrath speaks about the Board of Estimate report. (audio is disturbed by mic noise) Had the deal gone through in 1933, the cost would have been $11 million. The properties have substantially depreciated: burned out trestle, so a price of $7 million should be offered. This was not a firm figure in their eyes. (many more details about the negotiation process)
Michael J. Quill (unidentified), of the Transport Workers Union, delivers his argument against the sale and his defense of classifying the purchase as a "steal": the refurbishing will cost more than the city estimates. Accuses Covernor Dewey of being on the side of the railroad. Asks that the Attorney General enter the investigation. The LIRR owes the city $9 million in back taxes. LIRR is the responsibility of the governor. Calls Dewey "Boss Tweed." This project will cause lay-offs and cost taxpayers money they don't have to spend.
Moses (?) argues against some facts. Quill's counsel, John F. O'Donnell (?) responds in his defense: the "steal" is from the taxpayers of the city of New York. Much discussion about Quill's claim that the deal is a "steal." Re-reading the record to prove a point. Yelling between Moses and Quill.
Col. Bingham's plans for replacing the trestle.
Quill: "You're taking over the lemon, and you're paying for it."
Dispute over current and future fares.
Open floor for comments from others (Mr. O'Donnell still wants to speak but is not allowed to). Mr. Shapiro accuses Quill and O'Donnell of misunderstanding the word "steal," laments the state of local government. Mac Dougal (?) of the Queens Chamber of Congress applauds the deal. An unidentified speaker calls Quill and O'Donnell "wind jammers" who have spoken irresponsibly. Louis C. Moser asks Moses where the $40 million is coming from.
Note: due to the nature of this event, there is confusion in this description over who is speaking at any given time.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 69721
Municipal archives id: LT877