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Mr. Gray. Well, as Mrs. Abzug indicated, trucks have priority over people, and we have a university enrollment of 38,000 and you are at the opposite end of town and here again, I could not understand how you could have these responsible people, five of them that I named, pick this site out in 1968 and again in July 1970, and say it was good; and 12 months later, say it was a bad one.
I have not heard any justification for making a 180 degree course change.
Mr. LEHNE. I think that report is dated in 1968, sir.
Mr. LEHNE. But those are the people that Mr. Reynolds referred to
Mr. Gray. Now, I can give you one that is more updated than that. I can give you one in January of 1971 to the Appropriations Committee. Chairman Steed inquired about this project and you told him that you had a site reevaluation by a team and that you found the presently owned site to meet all of the requirements and you were going to proceed with construction.
What do you say to that?
Mr. LEHNE. I remember when you asked that question you asked it in a meeting that took place in the middle of 1970 and Mr. Reynolds said he would give you the answer.
Mr. GRAY. Mr. Lehne, we could talk all day about Carbondale, obviously, and you do not have any reasons other than the one you have advanced: you want to make it more convenient for the trucks.
Mr. LEHNE. No, sir. I made a statement that the postal inspection service had made a report of those figures. I do not dream those things up.
Mr. GRAY. General, you know as well as I know that your Bureau of Transportation documented the fact that the star route trucks, which you are talking about, come in at off-traffic hours, and it is stated emphatically in the report that traffic to and from the Carbondale sectional center is not a problem because they come in mostly late at night or real early in the morning, plus the airport is on the west side of town near the old site.
Trucks are not a factor; and even if they were, I do not think that 50,000 people ought to be discommoded for the convenience of a star route contractor that might take him another 5 minutes to get back home. Because every single time that I have had rural route vacancy come up in my district, the excuse has always been to consolidate the routes; that the carrier can carry the mail in 4 to 5 hours and, therefore, it is not a full day's work, and we should not replace the man, we ought to let one carrier do it. The same thing is true when you come with
your star route men to renew the contracts. You are doing this in 3 or 4 hours.
The point I am getting at is, what difference does it make if it takes him 5 minutes longer to get to the post office ? So what? Do you not believe that 80 percent of the people ought to have a conveniently located facility? This is out in the country. I want to show you a picture of it.
Mr. LEHNE. I have seen that, sir; the pictures that you have, I have
You also know we are going to obtain the station downtown for the people who visit it. And 80 percent of the people will not have to go out to the post office.
Mr. Gray. Sir, this is why we are moving. We have a rapidly expanding university a few blocks from the existing post office.
Listen to me carefully. There is not one single parking space for patrons; no, not one.
The driver now has to get out and let his wife, or whoever goes to the post office with him, out of the car while he circles the block.
Is that convenience to the patrons ? That is what you are saying: Compound an already bad problem. We are going to invest several millions of dollars out in the country. The site you gave up was in a good location, and it had ample space for parking, plus three access roads.
Now, I have the exact figures of the building at Carbondale. It will be a 53,177 square foot building, 50,000 square feet for employee parking—57,800 for employee parking, to be exact—25,000 square feet for the trucks, and 11,000 square feet for the patrons. That is, the taxpayers.
Mr. LEHNE. You can park a lot of cars on 11,000 square feet, Mr. Gray.
Mr . GRAY. You had 187,000 square feet in the site you gave up as being too small.
Mr. LEHNE. For patron parking ?
Mr. GRAY. You had 187,000 square feet to do anything you wanted to with it, and when you add all this up, it only comes to a little over 3 acres, which gives you a little over an acre and a half surplus for further expansion on the site you gave up as too small.
You could have another acre of maneuvering. You justify to me as a matter after the fact you did not have enough room in the initial site.
Here is the letter, dated June 10, 1970, addressed to me from Jerry Reynolds. The Post Office, at the request of Chairman Tom Steed of the Treasury and Post Office Subcommittee, recently conducted an investigation to determine the priority standing of the Carbondale Post Office facility, among our many other needs.
In conducting this survey, and they sent people out there, the Post Office Department personnes have recently visited Carbondale, not in 1968 as you said, but 1970.
Mr. LEHNE. No, sir.
Mr. GRAY. Continuing, your letter said they recently visited Carbondale to view the present facilities and have had extended discussions with the members of the Chicago region, comparing the results of these recent surveys with our other needs, and have raised the priority of the Carbondale project in our construction program.
Accordingly, it is our intent within 60 days—that is June 1970, over a year ago after our prospectuses are approved-see that little
sugar you are holding here? You say our $250 million worth of
prospectuses by your committee will give you the little $2 million project; after these are approved by the House Public Works Committee, we will recommend to the Appropriations Committee a reprograming which will permit us to proceed with the construction of the Carbondale Post Office shortly thereafter. Do you deny this?
Mr. LEHNE. No, sir; that has nothing to do with the present site. Mr. Gray. You said in June of 1970, a team visited Carbondale. Mr. LEHNE. I know I did.
Mr. Gray. Well, why then would you come back and say we will start construction in 60 days, my friend, because you know if you had any idea of changing sites at this juncture, you would not have told me and the Appropriations Committee you would be ready to go in 60 days.
You would say instead: “We are considering alternate sites that may delay the project.”
Nr. LEHNE. Perhaps I was misinformed, but I understood you to say I had written the letter that the present site was still adequate.
Mr. GRAY. This is it. It does not mention anything about the site, does it?
Mr. LEHNE. Mr. Gray, may I read it?
Mr. LEHNE. They looked at the Carbondale site to determine the probable location of facilities.
Mr. GRAY. Right; and they came back and said we find them adequate, and not only find them adequate, but updated the priority to proceed.
Mr. LEHNE. It is in this letter?
Mr. LEHNE. We said it raised the priority of the need for a facility in Carbondale; that is what that letter said.
Mr. Gray. Well, is not the site an integral part of the facility? How could you know what the needs are without looking at the site?
Mr. LEHNE. We have a lot of needs.
Mr. GRAY. I would hate to think you would send a team out, with the taxpayers paying the transportation, and would go out and meet in a restaurant someplace and have a few drinks and decide this is the time to go ahead and build the building.
Here, read this telegram.
You have had your chance but I have heard no rationale as to why the taxpayers are now burdened with two locations and probably going to sell one of them for a loss, all for no reason.
Let's move on to the Virgin Islands. We heard testimony here this morning from the GSA that they were ready to go with plans, in fact they had spent over $88,000 on plans for a multiple purpose facility in the Virgin Islands at Charlotte Amalie, almost $100,000.
I have a memorandum obtained from your files that shows you personally visited Charlotte Amalie. The population in that whole island of St. Thomas is 16,000.
Now, they really have a growing problem there. We have 38,000 students alone in Carbondale, in addition to the other population in the city, but you did not feel' it was important to go to Carbondale. But you did, in March 1970 go to the Virgin Islands.
Now, I am not critical of that. I like to take trips, too, but the analogy I am drawing here is the fact that the space needs were so great that in April of 1970 in the Virgin Islands you took an option, a verbal option on a tract of land even before you had permission of the General Services Administration to pull out of this commitment for a joint project.
I have a memorandum dated in April that shows that you instructed your real estate division of the New York office to go down and to sign an option for what you had taken as a verbal option.
Now, I have never heard of a verbal option on real estate.
I had the GAO look into this matter and I am quoting from their report to our committee:
On the basis of our examination of the Postal Service and its regional office files and interviews with postal and other officials we were unable to conclusively determine how the site came to the attention of the Postal Service.
Now, for the record let me state that a contract has been signed to acquire a small 31/2-acre tract of land, not in the business district of Charlotte Amalie, but a mile and eight-tenths from it on a 45-year lease at $35,000 a year and they are now estimating that the building to go on that site, the rent will cost about $125,000 per year.
Now, visualize this: Over $150,000 of the taxpayers' money last year for a single purpose facility when we own the site at the other location and the money was going to be in fiscal 1972, this year. And all of a sudden the General
down to the warm breezes and comes back with an option on a site that is not even in a central location, orders the New York regional office to go ahead and duplicate, and then he goes over to GSA and asks permission to pull out of their good multipurpose project.
I wonder what would have happened if GSA had said "No." Can you visualize sticking the taxpayers for what will be at least $150,000 a year for the next 20 years on a noncancellable lease and five renewable options for 45 years and let GSA proceed with the building that they have contemplated at a cost of $6 million or $7 million in a little community?
I could get a bigger crowd at a fight on the street out here than you will find on the average street in Charlotte Amalie.
Yet, the justification is so great that the General comes back and signs up the taxpayer with a $36,000 noncancellable lease for a little 3-acre tract of land with no improvements on it.
If that was not enough they now have redesigned it to have some kind of a facade down there to look Dutch or something and that is going to cost about $100,000.
So here we are. Add this up and see what it is costing the American taxpayer to put up just a postal handling facility in a little island that only has 16,000 inhabitants on the total island, not just in Charlotte Amalie.
I think the population there is like 6,000 or 7,000. Yet, since 1966 we have been trying to get a sectional center to work for 100 towns in
southern Illinois and Illinois is the fourth largest taxpayer in the Nation, and we still have not built a facility.
In the Virgin Islands, this new Postal Service has such a high priority that they are going to invest all this money to immediately get a big facility going.
I know the General is going to say, “Look at all the tourists that visit down there and they all mail packages.
We have more students at the Carbondale University on any given day, and certainly no one writes any more than students writing home for money, than you will have down in the Virgin Islands.
Most of those people are commuters who stay on the mainland or at Puerto Rico and go home at night. There are only five or six hotels on the entire island.
This is the type of waste that and I abhor and I want the record to show that I think it is a disgrace and that some of us in the Congress now can only sit by and say, "I told you so."
General, could you tell us who made the decision to select that site in the Virgin Islands?
Mr. LEHNE. Well, I was there as you indicated.
There were real estate men that had been there before. It was a combined decision. I was responsible for it.
Mr. Gray. Did you take a verbal option on that property?
Mr. LEHNE. We discussed it with the present people who were in trust of that property, the fact before he would let it go, before any other use he would contact the Post Office Department to see whether or not we could formalize our needs.
The needs for the Post Office Department, Mr. Gray, as you well know are not decided by the people building the building, the operational needs; the people who mail the mail and determine what the priorities are do that.
Mr. Gray. But would you believe, though, that an island with 16,000 inhabitants should have a higher priority than a congressional district with 468,000 people, because Carbondale, getting back to that, is a sectional center working mail from my whole congressional district, and we haven't had this kind of priority of jumping on a plane and getting an option and getting a building built.
We have been trying since 1966 when Congress said we recognize the need in Carbondale and here we are just getting under construction.
Mr. LEHNE. The Charlotte Amalie project started long before 1964.
Mr. GRAY. I am talking about when the Post Office Department jumped into it.
Mr. LEHNE. I think the Post Office people were the ones who found the site and turned it over to GSA. Ás Nr. Kreger indicated, it was a combined POD-GSA project.
Mr. GRAY. Are you telling us that some of your real estate people recommended the site that you took a verbal option on?
Mr. LEHNE. Mr. De Jesus I believe was his name. I do not have the correct pronunciation.
Mr. GRAY. While there, how many other locations did you inspect?
Mr. LEHNE. I do not know. I certainly discussed this with Mr. Medico. It is not the only site I looked at. I looked at quite a few other sites.