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I am not talking about Ken Gray as an individual. I am talking about the position of the chairman of the committee that has had to authorize these projects in the past.
Do they not have any respect at all for the Congress? Tell me that the Postal Service has any feeling for what we want on the local level. I am the elected Congressman, Mr. Lehne. You have never seen that site. I am the elected Representative representing those people, not a man you sent from Philadelphia down to look over alternate sites.
Yet your own documentation, prepared by your own people, said the original site was good, it was adequate; but yet you have moved out to an area that is isolated out in the country.
He said that they wanted more space. Now, let the record be clear. I just called not more than 2 hours ago and talked to the engineer on the project, and I have some interesting figures. Remember this: They owned 412 acres. They displaced these people, condemned the land, took their property, put people out of business. This property has not been on the tax rolls since the Government took it. They denied the county the taxes.
Just listen to this: The total square footage of the contract that is now being awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers to build this out in the country, is 112 acres less than the site they gave up on the grounds that it was too small. The building is only 1 acre. The parking facility is only 1 acre. The
1 patron parking is only 11,000 square feet. That is only a quarter of an acre, yet they have bleeding hearts for my people. They want to give us more parking, they say. They are providing a little, 11,000square-feet parking area for patrons to drive 21,2 miles out in the country to mail a letter.
This is in the name of economy? Now, Mr. Lehne, you know as well as I know, when they sell the original site, they will take a loss on it, because when they bought the site, they were going, vibrant businesses. Now, they are going to sell the land for whatever they can get out of it.
Listen to this: They are paying $250,000 for another location, will spend probably another quarter of a million to get access to it, out in the muddy field with no roads. This is the kind of waste and extravagance I am talking about.
The elected Representative had nothing to say about it. Did they consult with the two U.S. Senators ? I asked both of them. No. Who did they consult? I would like to know. Could you tell us, General, for the record, why you changed locations in Carbondale, Ill. ? Mr. LEHNE. Yes, sir. Mr. GRAY. Well, I would like to hear it. Mr. LEHNE. I will be glad to explain it again, Mr. Gray. We changed locations in Carbondale, Ill., for the simple reason that you
indicated earlier, Carbondale is a sectional center. The traffic coming in and out of that sectional center originates mostly on the other side of town versus the property the Government originally bought in 1968.
The postal inspection people have made surveys to show that our annual operating expenses, if we retained the same site, would be much more expensive than getting to a newer site which, as you have just indicated, is half the cost of
the site that we originally owned. Mr. GRAY. Half the cost of the land, General ? Mr. LEHNE. The site, sir, I am talking about.
Mr. Gray. That is what I am talking about, the land; no streets, no sewer, no water.
Mr. LEHNE. The site that we have purchased called for the development of that site to provide those facilities.
Mr. GRAY. Roads?
Mr. GRAY. For $25,000, no way to get three access roads to the new site?
Mr. LEHNE. The site that we have purchased, the 71/2 acres, I believe call for the seller of that site to bring the roads in to our site.
It is right beside, as you know, a shopping center, which is developed.
Mr. GRAY. It is 850 feet beyond the shopping center, and I am glad you brought that up. It is 850 feet from a new shopping center, with a 12-foot wide pavement leading into the shopping center, and I was by there 2 weeks ago, and the traffic was backed up for about three-quarters of a mile, trying to get into a J. C. Penney store, and they are still continuing to build in the shopping center.
Can you imagine some lady going after her social security check, waiting in line for an hour while the traffic builds up?
The site you already own and gave up was fronted on all sides by major roads; and if you could not get in from one, you could get in from the other; and it is a major four-lane highway.
This is the type of fuzzy thinking that is going on down in the Postal Service.
Mr. LEHNE. The planning people in Carbondale and the county and State people were contacted on the sites, and you know that, sir, and so do I.
Mr. GRAY. I am glad you brought that up because I have a telegram here from the man you hired, not the man in Carbondale, who is on the Planning Commission and might have a friend who owns this property, but the man you hired as your architectural and engineering contractor to do this work. I will be glad to submit this for the record, but it states that the site that you have now bought is congested. He strongly recommends keeping the existing site; that it is more than adequate to meet the needs, and the building was designed purposely for this site.
Now, who do you want to believe, your man that you hired as an engineer to precisely plan this project, or some guy from Philadelphia who comes down and spends a couple of hours and talks to a special interest group that wants to sell some land?
That is exactly what happened.
Without objection, I will submit this Western Union telegram for the record, as exhibit No. 8. It is addressed to me, from R. A. Nack of Carbondale, Ill., and is dated February 4, 1971.
(The document referred to follows:)
CARBONDALE, ILL., February 4, 1971. Re U.S. Post Office facility, Carbondale, Ill. Congressman KENNETH J. GRAY, Sam Rayburn Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Meeting with State highway department: The west portion of the two way east west couple will include the construction of the Glenview intersection with State highway route 13. All traffic movement have been considered for this intersection design. This intersection improvement is a part of the east west couple improvement and not a special requirement for the post office facility. Old West Main Street design was approved by State highway department.
Meetings with city public works director: The Glenview intersection design has been studied and appears adequate for the traffic estimates for this area. The old West Main Street improvement was authorized by the city council of Carbondale to provide better access to the post office site. Construction plans have been completed and the project has been suspended until the selection of the post office site has been settled. Traffic generated by post office operations has been duly considered in the street design. Water and sanitary sewer service is adequate at this site.
Meeting with the city manager: The city needs the post office facility. The city improvement necessary to complement this post office facility have been authorized or completed by the city. The city has plans to improve the present Glenview intersection with highway route 13.
Meetings with utilities companies central Illinois public service company has reviewed and approved the electrical and natural gas service for this facility. General Telephone Company has reviewed and approved the telephone new services for this facility.
Post Office Department stated peak large truck traffic loads would occur 4 AM and 10 PM small vehicle peak traffic load occurs at 8:45–9 AM.
Comment-small Post Office Department vehicles would be convenient to the various city delivery routes. Location of post office site out of town will require the small vehicles to travel extra long distances.
R. A. NACK. Mr. Gray. I think they know a little bit more about it than somebody in a swivel chair here in Washington.
Mr. LEHNE. I certainly hope they do, too.
Mr. Gray. But do you deny, sir, that you made a decision and then told me about it later?
Mr. LEHNE. You and I have had discussions many times, not the first of which was February 1971.
Mr. GRAY. We have never had a personal meeting except the one in my office, the one in February on the Carbondale property, and that was after the fact.
You tell me where we ever met and discussed this project? We have had reams of correspondence on this project because my people were on me all the time. We met one time. You had so little courtesy that you came to my office armed with a press release.
Fifteen minutes before you walked into my office, I received a call from a newspaper in my district wanting to know why the Post Office had changed the location. I learned this from a man 900 miles away before I learned it from you.
The decision was not made until February 1971.
Mr. Gray. But you already made the decision and had a press release in your hand.
Mr. LEHNE. I made the decision, obviously. I was responsible for it.
The postmaster in Carbondale had been consulted; the Chicago regional people had been brought in on the decision.
Mr. GRAY. I am glad you brought that up because the postmaster is one that I recommended and I called him. They called him in Chicago and said, which one of these do you want, site A or site B. Not the original location, they only asked him to choose one of two alternatives to the original site.
He said I was not given a chance to make a preference between what we are looking at now and what we already own. Let us not bring the postmaster into this because he certainly did not recommend the site you changed to.
They asked him to make a choice, A or B, and B was not owned by the Department.
Mr. LEHNE. All I can tell you is that the record will show that meetings were held in Chicago, the postmaster was there and I was advised that that was the site that the postmaster and the regional director wanted.
Mr. Gray. You are 100 percent in error. That is a terrible way to waste money.
Mr. LEHNE. The site in Carbondale has been under discussion for many, many years. There have been several sites previously recommended and they have all been looked at.
The site that was finally chosen is the one and you are absolutely right; I have never visited Carbondale.
Mr. Gray. You made the decision to change it, but you never saw it. That makes a lot of sense.
Mr. LEHNE. There are a lot of sites I get credit for making a decision on and I have visited a few throughout the country.
Mr. GRAY. I have a letter dated July 27, 1970, just a year old, signed by Jerry Reynolds.
You inquired about the final approval of the site and the names of the people responsible for the approval. They were Clarence Osthagen, Bureau of Operations; Joseph F. Jones, Bureau of Transportation; Dennis Jensen, Director, Realty Division; Leo Anderson, Director of Construction Engineering, Bureau of Research & Engineering, and John L. O'Marra, Assistant Postmaster, Bureau of Facilities.
All of these did visit the site, and out of the five, four of them are still employees of the Post Office Department in high positions and they made that decision after looking at the site in Carbondale.
They condemned the land, they took it, and 1 year later, 12 months later, these people who work for you have been repudiated.
You give me two reasons for changing it. The site was too small. I repudiated that by showing the contract you are awarding now is one and a half acres less than the original site.
Mr. LEHNE. What do you mean by “the site”?
Mr. GRAY. Sir, I am saying the contract that has now been awarded on this bad location—total parking area, total building area, total square footage for patron parking and maneuvering space for trucksis one and a half acre less than the site you gave up as being too small.
Mr. LEHNE. That is complete news to me, Mr. Gray.
Mr. GRAY. I just got it from the engineer who designed the building and he ought to know. The lady who took it down on the phone is
over here in the room, if you would like to swear her in and have her testify.
The original site was large enough. Your own people said it was large enough I am telling you that is not reason; it was only an excuse for mov
l ing that location, and that is a waste of the taxpayers' money and that is why I am bringing it up. I do not make any friends by bringing up arguments. I am bringing this up because this again is like New York and like the Virgin Islands and all the rest of them. You have taken a 180-degree course different from what the Congress was told we were going to do when you asked for authorization and funds; and this is why we have to have some oversight over this monstrosity of the Postal Service or it will bankrupt the country,
If Mr. Blount's statement is correct last Sunday that he is going to get it on a paying basis, my God, if we have to absorb millions of dollars of waste, with increasing demands for Postal Service to make this a self-sustaining operation, we are going to have to have a gold mine some place; I will guarantee that.
This is incredible. There was no need for moving in Carbondale. It could have been built 2 years ago. Escalation costs have eaten up at least $200,000 or $300,000 since you have been fooling around on another site when you already owned one.
There was no need whatsoever for this delay. That is why you heard the colloquy I had with Mr. Kreger, that the delay in many of these projects is not the fault of redtape or the Congress. It is the fault of the Postal Service not going ahead with a project that is fully designed, fully authorized, and fully funded.
I have a letter from you dated last June a year ago saying money was available for the Carbondale facility and you would be awarding a contract within 60 days after we approve the $250 million worth of prospectuses.
Just like in New York, we kept faith. You did not keep faith by building the building. It is not the Congress. Go look in the mirror and you will see the delay.
I still have not had an excuse or a reason, either one, as to why the people are being discommoded in Carbondale. The taxpayers are out another quarter of a million to one-half million in escalated costs while you go pick a bad site over a good one.
Mr. LEHNE. Mr. Gray, there are differences of opinion.
Mr. Gray. General, I have lived there 46 years. You have never seen the site.
The engineer you hired and paid over $120,000 to design this building and help you adapt it to this lot says the site you owned is better than the new one.
Who are you going to believe?
If you have certain procedures to go by you should follow them. You should not make the decisions without looking. If you do we are going to run the cost up to an astronomical figure.
Mr. LEHNE. I tried to indicate the studies made by the Post Office people indicated there would be tremendous transportation savings in easier moving to the east side.