Public Opinion Favors Purchase of Water Company
The Larchmonter-Times, February 2, 1922
Village Trustees call for special election on Tuesday, Feb. 14th, when taxpayers will vote on proposition.
Guided by a unanimous expression of opinion which
justifies the proposed purchase of the Larchmont
water company and its holdings, the Village Trustees
have called for a special election on Tuesday Feb.
14th to be held at the Village Hall, at which time
property owners will have an opportunity of voting
either for or against the proposition.
The hundred or so taxpayers who attended the public meeting at Village Hall, Monday evening were not only surprised but particularly pleased to see very large chart showing figures and details of the $349,500 bond issue at four and one-half percent for 30 years, 1922 to 1952, the proposed amount for which the Village has a 60-day option to purchase the water plant. All the necessary data stood out before the meeting and, according to the figures, the purchase of the water company by the Village would show a profit from the start.
Those present listened with marked attention to the thorough manner in which Village President George McGeachin told the history of the incidents and dealings with the Larchmont Water Company which led up to the idea of the proposed purchase of the plant. The sum and substance of the matter is that the Village would have to finance the cost of putting in additional pipe lines where it is necessary to the future development of the community, as the water company was unable to do so. Upon advice of Village Attorney Rogers, such procedure was not sound, as it might lead to various complications eventually, in which the Village would be the loser. Subsequently the Village Trustees, after considering the matter from every angle, authorized President McGeachin to consult with representatives of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who owns the majority of stock in the water company. Several conferences were held with Hunter Wykes, the well-known attorney, who agreed to sell the water plant for $375,000. After considerable dickering, President McGeachin obtained a 60-day option to purchase the plant for $349,500.
The Water Company's holdings were appraised in 1920 by Village Engineer L. E. Van Etten, who placed the value at $410,000, and President McGeachin said this was a conservative estimate of the value of the holdings. Mr. Van Etton's appraisal was borne out in 1921, when a complete survey and appraisal was made by an expert engineer employed by the City of New at the Ashokan Reservoir, who in his report to the Village said the Village would do well to purchase the plant at the price estimated by Mr. Van Etten.
President McGeachin pointed out if the Village decided to take over the plant, the Trustees had three things in mind which would be to the interest of the householders: First, to reduce the cost of water to consumers; second, to obtain a greater pressure; and third, to install larger mains where necessary.
President McGeachin pointed out that during an inspection of the reservoirs he found things very unsatisfactory and these defects would of necessity have to be remedied immediately, so as to give a purer water supply. The recent report of the State Department of Health made recommendations to improve the water supply, but the Larchmont Water Company failed to take heed. While the state authorities have the right to point out defects of this kind, they are lacking in proper authority to enforce them. And the only way by which matters of this kind can be enforced is by invoking the aid of the Legislature. If the Village takes over the plant, we will police it and if necessary condemn adjoining property to protect the reservoir from pollution, as a municipality has greater powers in instances of this kind than a private owned company, said Attorney Rogers.
Dr. W. E. Bullard substantiated the previous speaker's remarks as to the conditions at the reservoir from a health standpoint. "Last spring we had to boil the water and the chlorine plant is insufficient to take care of the water supply." Dr. Bullard advocated the purchase of the plant when he added that "A good pure water supply is better than a gold mine."
Letters were read from former Village Trustee Wesley M. Oler and Dr. Thomas H. Willard, a one-time member of the local Board of Health. Both of these gentlemen went on record as favoring the purchase of the plant.
Former Village President Edward G. Griffin stated he believed this purchase of the water plant was the right thing to do and the price to be paid was reasonable; that it might cost double the amount to lay the necessary mains in the streets. He thought that if the Village was to bring about the purchase of the plant through condemnation proceedings, the cost would be greater. The speaker told of this incident knowledge is intimate knowledge in connection with the matter, for during his term as Village President, investigations had been had been made as to its value as the Village, at that time, was considering the purchase.
Joseph F. Gleason recalled that about eight years ago money was subscribed to fight against a threatened increase in water rates, but it was to no avail as it was ascertained upon consultation with eminent council that all public service corporations were entitled to a certain return upon its investment, and that later the water rates were jumped from 35 cents to a dollar per 1,000 gallons.
The speaker took occasion to complement the Village and its officials: that the Village was indeed fortunate in having capable officials were willing to give up of their valuable time and working out the difficult problems which confront them, and that politics has never entered into Village affairs, and that the property owners had every confidence in the ability of its Village Trustees to work out the best solution to the water question.
Mr. Gleason said we should be prepared to spend $200,000 additional, if necessary, to provide the purest kind of water and he felt that the consumers would stand back of its officials if it were deemed necessary for any future bond issue to bring about the desired result.
"Since there is nothing left for us to drink but water, we must have good stimulating water," said the speaker.
Mr. Gleason's remarks were not without the usual wit and humor for which the gentlemen is well-known. As a climax to the evening session he left those present in a happy frame of mind, and without a dissenting opinion the meeting was dispersed fully satisfied that the Village should acquire the water company's holdings.
The present bonded indebtedness of the Village is $229,400. Under the law the bond limit is $923,639. The purchase of the water company for $349,500 would not affect the debt limit of the Village, for, under the law it is treated as a self-carrying project and is separate and distinct, and would not affect the borrowing capacity of the village.
Under the law the Board of Trustees would handle the affairs of the municipal water plant and it may be that the voters would be asked to provide for the election of an additional Village Trustee to look after this proposition.
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