Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pelham to New York City in 1888: "You Should Pay Taxes"!

In 1888, the Town of Pelham was feeling economic pain.  It was buckling under bonded debt. Additionally, the City of New York had recently acquired 1,700 acres within the Town of Pelham to form Pelham Bay Park and successfully lobbied legislators to enact legislation exempting it from the payment of property taxes to the Town of Pelham.  Town Supervisor W. R. Lamberton cried foul and wrote to New York City Mayor Abram S. Hewitt pleading for the City to rectify the situation.  A brief article about the letter appeared in the February 5, 1888 issue of The Sun published in New York City.  The article is quoted below.

"Rough on Pelham, But Must We Pay for It?

The City of New York insisted that if it had got to buy 1,700 acres of the town of Pelham for a park that it didn't want, at least it should not be compelled to pay taxes to the town of Pelham on the land.  It got this condition enacted into the law. 

Now W. R. Lamberton writes to Mayor Hewitt asking him to support a bill introduced in the Assembly providing for the continued taxation at the present assessed value new parks laid out outside of the city.  He puts his plea on the ground that otherwise the tax rate of Pelham, which town has only 1,300 acres left, will be raised to six per cent, and that will bankrupt the town, which has already a flourishing bonded debt. 

Mr. Lamberton does not say that the city is responsible for the unfortunate condition of the town, but he says that the city is rich, or, as he puts it:

'Do you think it right to aid in oppressing the poor fishermen of City Island and the day laborers of Pelhamville, and in destroying the values of their little homes merely to save New York 1-800 of 1 percent, in the New York city tax rate?'

The 1,700 acres are assessed at $500,000, and the rest of Pelham $700,000.  Mr. Lamberton says that the town never encouraged the park scheme."

Source:  Rough on Pelham, But Must We Pay for It?, The Sun [New York, NY], Feb. 5, 1888, p. 11, col. 6.

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