Battles over Razing the Fifth Avenue Station, the Highbrook Avenue Bridge, and Embankments After Failure of New York, Westchester & Boston Railway
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It was a dark time in Pelham on a cold February day in 1938. Metropolitan infrastructure expert Robert A. Moses, then Park Commissioner of the City of New York, was walking with Village of North Pelham officials on a tour of the abandoned railroad facilities of the bankrupt New York, Westchester & Boston Railway located in North Pelham. Following the tour, Robert Moses "reported the advisability of running a truck-highway through North Pelham on the railroad-bed."
Pelhamites were shocked. As the shock passed, emotions turned to anger. Pelhamites banded together to present "considerable opposition" to the plan. It "was finally abandoned."
Even so, the question remained: what would be done with the giant viaduct crossing the Hutchinson River Parkway, the giant cast concrete Fifth Avenue Station above the main street of the village, the lengthy stone and dirt railroad embankment that cut much of the Village of North Pelham in half, and the massive cast concrete Highbrook Avenue Bridge recently added to the National Register of Historic Places? Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog explores these issues, how they were addressed, and what impact they have had on the history of the Town of Pelham.
The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway opened for passenger service on May 29, 1912. The main branch of the line passed through Pelham on a viaduct that crossed the Hutchinson River to the Fifth Avenue Station at Third Street high atop a cast concrete arch built above Fifth Avenue, onto an embankment until it crossed Highbrook Avenue via the cast concrete Highbrook Avenue Bridge and to the Pelhamwood Station at about the New Rochelle border on Storer Avenue.
The railroad was built and operated under the auspices of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Thus, when the New Haven declared bankruptcy at the height of the Great Depression in 1935, the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway likewise was plunged into bankruptcy and, eventually, liquidation. The Westchester, as it was called, ceased operations on December 31, 1937.
Pelham and many other communities were left with white elephant remnants of the defunct railroad and many, many questions? Could the rail service be resurrected in some fashion? If not, who would pay for demolition of such massive remnants as the cast concrete Fifth Avenue Station, the Hutchinson River Viaduct, the cast concrete Highbrook Avenue Bridge, and the massive and rocky embankments that cut a swath through the Village of North Pelham and threatened to serve as a massive wall with nearly half the village on one side, separated from much of the rest of the village on the other side. Many, many other communities faced essentially the same burdens. Plainly the least troubling outcome would be to resurrect rail service along the line in some fashion.
Efforts To Resurrect Rail Service on the Line Continued Into the Early 1940s
As the bankruptcy of The Westchester plodded along, there were efforts to prod municipalities along the line to provide subsidies to fund some continuation of the service. As one might expect, those municipalities including Pelham balked. In an apparent effort to prod the municipalities, the receiver obtained a report prepared by a New York bond and finance authority named B. J. Van Ingen concluding that The Westchester could "not be revived on a self-liquidating basis without subsidies from the municipalities" along the line.
The report did not dissuade municipal authorities. They continued to press for reestablishment of the rail operations along the line.
A plan emerged from meetings of Westchester County officials to revive the service under the control of the Port Authority of New York by leasing two tracks of the railroad owned by New York City below the New York City boundary to permit operation of through trains from Westchester to the 180th street terminal. Village attorney Gordon Miller of North Pelham served on a committee of Westchester County officials to press for such a plan.
Necessary subsidies and leasing arrangements never materialized. Such plans to revive the line went nowhere. The bankruptcy continued until a decision was made to liquidate the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway.
Remnants of the Railroad in Pelham Deteriorated Precipitously
By 1942, the United States had entered World War II and the conflict was raging. The tons of strategic metals that remained in the tracks, viaducts, electrical system, and other assets of the defunct railroad line were prime assets to be exploited by the government in support of the war effort. In addition, the abandoned assets of the railroad, subject in many cases to the ravages of the elements and vandalism, were deteriorating precipitously. Indeed, in late Autumn of 1942 a mysterious fire broke out on the south side platform of the Fifth Avenue Station.
To make matters worse, the potential dangers of such abandoned assets were becoming all too apparent. On Friday, November 27, 1942, long-time North Pelham resident and notable local historian and former newspaper man J. Gardner Minard (who had moved to Mount Vernon) was scouring the interior of the abandoned Fifth Avenue Station searching for scrap lumber and metal. He fell through a manhole cover into an elevator shaft and was gravely injured.
The War Effort Prompts Removal of the Low Hanging Fruit: The Viaduct
With World War II raging, the need for scrap strategic metals reached a fever pitch in mid-1942. Prime candidates for scrapping were the rails of The Westchester and, among other things, the massive viaduct adjacent to Pelham Reservoir that once carried trains from Mount Vernon Station over the Hutchinson River.
An independent agency of the United States Government known as the Reconstruction Finance Company ("RFC") had eight war-time subsidiaries charged with overseeing various aspects of defense and war preparations on the home front including the Metals Reserve Corporation. It appears that a Federal agency known as the War Production Board purchased the right to scrap including scrap metal along the line. Thereafter, the Federal entity known as Metals Reserve Corporation began collecting strategic metals along the line (in addition to all the scrap it was collecting elsewhere, throughout the country in 1942).
Local newspapers from the period are rife with stories about purchases of large volumes of strategic metals by the Metals Reserve Corporation, funded by or in affiliation or connection with the RFC. The Metals Reserve Corporation focused on salvaging "larger units" of strategic metals such as trolley car tracks, railroad bridges, and railroad tracks. Indeed, in January, 1943, it was announced that the New Haven Line had donated to the Metals Reserve Corporation "two of its six sets of tracks on the Shore Line branch from New Rochelle to New York City over which passenger traffic was suspended."
As part of this major initiative, government agencies became involved in the bankruptcy proceedings of The Westchester and arranged to purchase scrap metal and other scrap including that found in The Westchester Viaduct, the Fifth Avenue Station, the Highbrook Avenue Bridge, and the remainder of the abandoned line in and around Pelham. The government apparently agreed to remove the material acting through Metals Reserve Corporation through either the assent of, or a formal agreement with, Pelham authorities. Critical issues arose almost immediately. Questions surrounded the nature of the agreement and whether it required demolition of the cast concrete Fifth Avenue Station, the stone and dirt embankment that split the Village of North Pelham, and the cast concrete Highbrook Avenue Bridge.
There was, however, some low-hanging fruit. There was no question that the virtually all-metal Hutchinson River Viaduct would be a rich source of strategic metal. Consequently, there was no doubt it would be demolished and scrapped quickly. It was.
By mid-July, 1942, authorities were beginning to warn that portions of the Hutchinson River Parkway likely would be closed for substantial periods of time as engineers worked to drop entire massive bridges in otherwise unaffected condition to deliver to Army engineers. In the case of Pelham and Mount Vernon, the warnings made clear that the dismantling of the Viaduct over the Hutchinson River and the Parkway would be disruptive and would require parkway closings that would drive detoured traffic through the heart of the Village of North Pelham.
News stories, quoted below, make clear that the time necessary to scrap other nearby bridges delayed the dismantling of the Lincoln Avenue Viaduct in Pelham. Nevertheless, it is clear that by September 11, 1942, the dismantling of the Viaduct had begun and likely was complete within ten days based on planned closings of the Hutchinson River Parkway. The dismantling of the steel and metal-rich Viaduct certainly was completed within the next five weeks.
This was another important Patriotic time. The United States was under attack. Pelham prepared, each night, for what was thought to be the possibility of Axis air and even submarine attacks. Anything and everything, particularly strategic metals, that might further our Town's War effort was offered to (and accepted by) the Federal government.
Settlement of Railroad Tax Arrearages Change the Landscape
Though officials of the Town of Pelham and the Village of North Pelham did not know it at the time, they made decisions in 1943 that negatively affected their abilities to demolish the remnants of The Westchester in North Pelham. That year, the Town and Village became involved in extensive efforts to obtain payment of the company's property taxes that were in arrears after the Railway suspended operations. After extensive negotiations with the railway company receiver and meetings and negotiations with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the parties reached a deal in 1943 for the railway to transfer to the municipalities all right, title and interest in the railway's right of way and all railway buildings within the boundaries of the Town of Pelham. The properties were valued at the time at $150,000. Additionally, the railway receiver settled the unpaid taxes totaling $90,248.59 by agreeing to a payment of $52,400. I have written about this tax settlement before. See Wed., Apr. 01, 2015: Pelham Settled the Unpaid Tax Bills of the Defunct New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company in 1943.
The Town of Pelham and the Village of North Pelham thereafter became joint owners of the massive cast concrete Fifth Avenue Station, the railroad right-of-way including the detested stone and dirt embankment, and the cast concrete Highbrook Avenue Bridge. The two municipalities fought for years afterward over what should be done about various of the railroad remnants, who should do it, and how it should be funded.
Newspaper descriptions of the negotiations to settle the railway tax arrearages suggest what transpired although the reports conflict in a variety of ways. It appears that before negotiations began, the Town of Pelham and the Village of North Pelham reached some form of understanding with Metals Reserve Corporation, perhaps with the blessing of the railroad receiver, to have Metals Reserve Corporation "remove the Fifth Avenue bridge and leave the site in a safe condition" as it demolished the railway in Pelham for scrap. The same reports do not indicate that the agreement addressed anything else such as, for example, the embankment or the Highbrook Avenue Bridge. According to one account:
"Under the original contract entered into by the communities and the Metal [sic] Reserve Corporation for the demolition of the line, the Corporation was to remove the Fifth Avenue bridge and leave the site in a safe condition."
Matters are somewhat confused with some reports referring to an agreement with the receiver, while most other reports refer to an agreement with Metals Reserve Corporation. In trying to sort through all the news reports of the time, it appears based on research so far that there was some sort of agreement reached with Metals Reserve Corporation to remove all bridges (not the embankment) in North Pelham with some additional informal assurance by the railroad receiver that it would fund the project.
In any event, during the tax arrearage negotiations, the railroad bankruptcy receiver tried to convince the Town and the Village to "take over the railroad property within the community limits." The Town and Village, however, were insisting that they would not settle the tax claims and take ownership of the railway properties until Metals Reserve Corporation completed demolition of the railway properties. They further argued that the embankment, which apparently was not explicitly included within the arrangements among the receiver, Metals Reserve, the Town, and the Village, had to be removed because if left as it was it would be "unsafe and will crumble as the elements work on it."
The negotiation ploy did not seem to work. The Federal War Production Board had purchased from the railroad receiver the right to scrap (including to scrap metal) along the line. The Metals Reserve Corporation was charged with collecting strategic metals along the line under that authority. The tax arrearages were the bankrupt railroad's problem and would most certainly be resolved in the bankruptcy, even if the resolution had to be crammed against the will of creditors such as the Town and Village without regard to whether a federal authority such as Metals Reserve Corporation did or did not agree to demolish the embankment and the cast concrete station and bridge in the Village of North Pelham. Moreover, in the face of what appears to have been an informal agreement with the receiver to "find the money from the limited amount at the disposal of the receiver" was known -- even during and after the negotiations -- "to be a big problem."
Apparently, the Town of Pelham and Village of Pelham authorities did not iron-clad with the principal parties (i.e., the receiver and Metals Reserve Corporation) which, of course, was acting on behalf of the nation in support of the war effort in the early years of the war. Nevertheless, the Town of Pelham and the Village of North Pelham settled their tax claims by accepting a portion of the taxes due as well as joint ownership of the railway properties in North Pelham.
Metals Reserve Corporation Balks at Demolishing the Station and Highbrook Bridge
By about this time, it appeared that the matter devolved into a dispute between Metals Reserve Corporation and Pelham officials over whether the company had to remove the embankment in addition to the Fifth Avenue Station and the Highbrook Avenue Bridge. It seems that as a consequence of this fundamental disagreement, Metals Reserve Corporation began to balk at whether to do the demolition at all or whether to delay the demolition until after World War II ended. In September, 1943, the railroad receiver stepped in and attempted to broker a settlement among the parties.
In connection with that initiative, Metals Reserve submitted a new proposal with specifications indicating that it would not remove the embankment and would only undertake partial demolition of the Fifth Avenue Station and the Highbrook Bridge, leaving giant abutments standing. In the case of the Fifth Avenue Station, it proposed to remove the center part of the arches, but leave standing on both sides of the street giant supports standing 27-feet tall, jagged and rough at the top, and not set back from the street on either side at all. The company made a similar proposal to remove only the center of the Highbrook Avenue Bridge, leaving rough, tall supports standing on each side of the roadway. According to the company, it was obligated only to remove the bridges above the streets and not the abutments ro embankments to the sides of the bridges.
The proposal was unacceptable to Pelham to say the least.
Town Turns to its Outside Counsel Asking If It Could It Sue Metals Reserve
The Town of Pelham had hired Judge George Lambert in 1940 to advise the Town on the demolition of the railway assets in North Pelham. In September, 1943, the Town scheduled a meeting with Lambert to consider his legal opinion regarding whether the Town and the Village of North Pelham could compel Metals Reserve Corporation to remove the station, the Highbrook Avenue Bridge and the embankment in their entireties.
Research has not yet revealed the opinion provided by Judge Lambert. Whatever that opinion, it seems clear that the Town and the Village never were able to negotiate a settlement with Metals Reserve Corporation nor compel the company to remove the remnants of the railroad in Pelham.
In the meantime, the remnants of the abandoned Westchester and Boston in North Pelham were continuing to deteriorate. A news report published on December 14, 1944 noted that "Ceilings are beginning to fall through leaks in the roof in the Fifth avenue station. Heavy rain this week accentuated the damage." Moreover, perhaps as a result of the accident involving J. Gardner Minard at the Fifth Avenue Station, the Town was forced to purchase indemnity insurance for the properties.
It was time for Pelham to take matters into its own hands.
The Village Decides to Take Matters in its Own Hands
On Friday, October 26, 1945, the Board of Trustees of the Village of North Pelham held a special meeting during which they requested contractor Frank Breen of the Bronx to prepare an estimate of the cost of tearing down the right-of-way and the Fifth Avenue Station. No mention was made in local news reports of any effort to include Highbrook Avenue Bridge in the requested proposal.
About three months later, on February 6, 1946, the village board accepted the terms of the contractor's proposal. Significantly, the board announced at a special meeting that a separate contract "will provide for demolition of the embankment at no cost." A brief account of the board's decision, quoted in full among the articles at the end of today's posting, stated:
"The board accepted terms of Michael F. Breen, New York contractor, to demolish the Boston and Westchester Railroad station and bridge arch on Fifth Avenue for $22,000, work to begin next week. A separate contract will provide for demolition of the embankment at no cost, the company using it for fill. This will level off an area of five and a half acres for sale."
The Fifth Avenue Station is Demolished
On Thursday, March 7, 1946, demolition of the Fifth Avenue Station including abutments and adjacent embankments on both sides of Fifth Avenue began. According to one account:
"Demolition of the Fifth Avenue bridge of the old Boston and Westchester Railroad was begun yesterday [March 7] by Michael F. Breen, Inc., of the Bronx. The cost is estimated at $22,000. Time limit for the job is June 30 but the corporation expects to complete the work in six weeks. Mayor Dominic Amato said today. The five acres of property which will be brought to street level by razing of the bridge will be sold, proceeds to be divided between North Pelham and the Town of Pelham."
Demolition of the Fifth Avenue Station was complete by about early September, 1946 and perhaps a little earlier. At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of North Pelham held on September 11, 1946 it was announced that demolition was complete, a sidewalk damaged during the work had been repaired, and the village had made its final payment of $2,000 on the demolition contract.
The Fifth Avenue Station including its abutments and immediately adjacent embankments was gone. A major embankment still cut through much of the village, however, and the Highbrook Avenue Station still stood. There were more headaches to come.
The Battle of the Embankment Begins
There seem to have been some efforts to sell the embankment to highest bidders willing to remove the embankment as part of the deal in 1949. One local account stated:
"The Town Board and the North Pelham Village Board, at a joint mmeeting Thursday night at Town Hall to discuss the proposed sale of the old Boston-Westchester right-of-way on Third Street in North Pelham gave to DiMarco and Micelo of Tuckahoe, bidders, one week to complete negotiations with Robert Smith of 213 Seventh Avenue, who seeks to purchase a part of the property from the bidders. The Boards ruled that if negotiations are not completed by that time, the property will be readvertised for sale. Marco and Miceli have bid $525 plus the removal of the embankment. Town Supervisor Gordon Miller presided."
Nothing came of such efforts. Soon, citizens of North Pelham began to grumble, claiming that the Village of North Pelham was being "too lax" about demolition of the embankment and Highbrook Avenue Bridge. The matter became an issue during the village trustee elections in 1950.
What North Pelham citizens did not know is that Village officials had been in consultation with State officials. The State informed Village officials that it might be possible to find contractors who needed fill for projects who would be willing to remove the embankment for the fill at no cost to the Village of North Pelham.
The State of New York certainly seemed to have something specific in mind. A toll superhighway connecting the major cities of the state of New York that would become part of a larger nationwide highway network was proposed as early as 1949. That roadway would become today's New England Thruway. The following year, the New York State Legislature passed the Thruway Authority Act creating the New York State Thruway Authority, an independent public corporation, which would build and manage the turnpike. It seems as though the Village was biding its time until fill necessary to build the new Thruway would be needed.
By the first half of 1951, Pelham reportedly was the only community along the Boston and Westchester line that still had not leveled the defunct railroad's embankments. The Town Board was growing increasingly unhappy with delays in efforts to demolish the embankments. To make matters more difficult, the Village of North Pelham was pushing the Town to grant it full title to the embankment properties so it could clear the embankments and create a park, village parking, and a playground. Such a move would mean that the properties would not be returned to the tax rolls. The Town of Pelham wanted the properties returned to the tax rolls for the benefit of all taxpayers.
On April 23, 1951, the Village of North Pelham offered to buy the Town's interest in the embankments for $1,500 to give it sole title and, thus, the ability to address the issues as it deemed fit. The Town was unhappy with the proposal. It wanted to return the properties to the tax roll. The Town envisioned a process whereby it would borrow the money necessary to remove the embankments. The cleared properties then would be sold to private citizens and the monies necessary to repay the borrowed sum would be refunded to the Town with any remainder split between the two municipalities. The Town and the Village were at loggerheads.
The issue came to an early head on June 18, 1951 when the Town of Pelham provided a proposal to the Board of Trustees of the Village of North Pelham. To provide incentive for both governmental bodies to work toward removal of the embankment that cut a swath through the Village of North Pelham, the proposal gave each governmental body a "chance" to demolish the embankment within two years or turn the job back over to the other body with a $5,000 payment for damages if the work was not done. The odd proposal that seemed to ignore the possibility that neither body would demolish the embankment within the required two years incensed the Village of North Pelham.
The Town and Village squabbled for months and months. By September, the Town's proposal "stipulated that the embankment be removed within two years or the full title and interest of North Pelham revert to the Town with a reimbursement of $5,000 for 'loss.' If this was not acceptable the Town offered to work the agreement in reverse and remove the embankment or lose title and $5,000."
What really was happening was that the Village of North Pelham was delaying any answers to the many proposals by the Town of Pelham, "pending negotiations to have the Boston-Westchester embankment fill used by the State for the New England Thruway project." Moreover, perhaps importantly for the continued existence of today's Highbrook Avenue Bridge, at about this time, Town Supervisor Gordon Miller announced unequivocally that: "The Highbrook Avenue bridge is a village problem." Such a statement seemed to suggest, of course, that while the Town of Pelham was interested in solving the problem of the embankment in an effort to return property to the assessment roll and, thus, reduce taxes, it was not particularly interested in solving the problem of a bridge over Highbrook Avenue.
The Battle of the Embankment Ends
Throughout the spring and early summer of 1952, the two municipalities battled. The Village of North Pelham raised its offer to purchase the Town's interest in the embankment from $1,500 to $15,000. The Town made multiple counter-proposals and made clear that it wanted the property returned to the tax roll.
All the while, according to news reports, the two municipalities were separately negotiating with contractors to remove the embankment at the lowest cost possible. Additionally, local real estate brokers were submitting proposals on behalf of clients who wished to purchase the properties and remove the embankment. The Village of North Pelham rejected one such proposal because the prospective buyer wanted to use a portion of the property to build a gasoline station and a car wash from Fourth Avenue (today's Lincoln Avenue) to Fifth Avenue on the north side of Third Street.
By July, both sides seem to have decided to relent and jointly arrange a contractor to remove the embankment. The week of July 7, 1952, the two municipalities jointly agreed to award a contract for removal of the embankment to Anthony D'Angelo and Sons Inc. at a cost of $36,000. The deadline for completion of the work was November 15.
On July 14, 1952, the contractor began demolition of the embankment in two parts. The contractor first removed the embankment from Seventh Avenue to Third Avenue along Third Street. The remaining portion to be completed is from Third to Second Avenues.
By mid-November, the first portion of the work was complete. The two municipalities granted an extension of the deadline for completion from November 15 to December 1, by which time the work seems to have been fully completed.
What About the Highbrook Avenue Bridge and its Embankments?
It is fascinating that throughout all the squabbles and negotiations over the main embankment that sliced through the Village of North Pelham there was virtually no mention of the Highbrook Avenue Bridge save for a brief reference indicating that the Town Board considered the bridge to be "a Village problem rather than a Town problem.
Though there remain many unanswered questions that, hopefully, further research will clarify, it seems that the Village, worn down by the battles, chose for the time not to spend any money to demolish the Highbrook Avenue Bridge or its immediately adjacent embankments. As a consequence, we are left today with "The Bridge to Nowhere" that just has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as another Pelham landmark. * * * * *
Below is text of an extensive series of newspaper articles describing the events that are the subject of today's posting. Many, many more such articles exist. Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.
"Subsidies Held Vital For W.&B.
Mayors Push Revival Campaign in Face of Financier's Warning
WHITE PLAINS -- In the face of a report by B. J. Van Ingen, New York bond and finance authority, that the New York, Westchester and Boston cannot be revived on a self-liquidating basis without subsidies from the municipalities, the Westchester committee of Mayors nevertheless voted yesterday to continue its efforts to reopen the line.
The movement was kept alive by the motion of Mayor Stanley W. Church of New Rochelle, who said the committee recognized the Van Ingen study was 'limited in scope to the question whether revenue bonds would be readily saleable.' The report did not pass on the question of operation of the road, he pointed out.
Mayor Chauncey T. S. Fish, chairman of the committee, presided at the session in City Hall. Mr. Van Ingen and several aides conferred with the officals.
Mr. Van Ingen sid his survey indicated it would not be feasible to finance the road as an electric line for passenger service on a self-liquidating basis.
Sees Subsidy Necessary
If the road could be partially subsidized by the communities served, he said, it probably could be financed by the sale of bonds, but without the subsidy it appeared 'improbable that revenues would be sufficient to meet costs of financing and operation.'
'In arriving at this conclusion,' Mr. Van Ingen stated, 'there has not been opportunity to make extensive engineering studies, but our engineers, the J. E. Greiner Company of Baltimore, personally examined the entire right-of-way and reviewed all the engineering and other reports heretofore made since the road was closed. These have been adequate to enable us to arrive at the conclusion stated.'
Mr. Van Ingen said he hoped a way might be found because of a sentimental interest.
N. Y. C. Concerned
'The problem of transportation between Westchester and New York is simply an extension of the entire traffic problem of Manhattan itself,' the report declared.
'The county is a bottle-neck through which all traffic between New York and New England must pass. We believe Westchester might very profitably arrange to have a comprehensive study made of the entire transportation system in light of the increasing needs the next decade may improve.'
Mayor Fish said the committee will meet again when and if a new proposal is ready. The Van Ingen company is 'out of the picture,' he said."
Source: Subsidies Held Vital For W.&B. -- Mayors Push Revival Campaign in Face of Financier's Warning, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 17, 1940, p. 1, col. 4.
"MAY RENT TRACKS FROM CITY FOR TRAIN SERVICE
Gordon Miller on Committee to Present Plan to New York City Officials.
High hopes for the revival of train service on the right-of-way of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railroad are held by Westchester County officials who attended a conference at White Plains on Tuesday. Engineers surveying the possibility of resuming service under Port of New York Authority control have suggested that two tracks of the railroad below the New York City line, now owned by New York City, be leased for the operation of through trains from Westchester to the 180th street terminal.
Village Attorney Gordon Miller of North Pelham was appointed to a committee which will confer with New York City officials on the plan to lease these tracks for express service. It is proposed that the local trains of the New York City subway be operated on the two outside tracks.
Mayor Dominic Amato of North Pelham and Supervisor's Clerk William E. Clark also attended the conference.
Mayor Stanley W. Church of New Rochelle was named chairman of the committee which also includes Corporation Counsel Arthur H. Ellis and ayor Chauncey T. S. Fish of White Plains.
Three methods of operation were discussed at the conference: power by overhead wires, by third rail or with Diesel operated locomotives. The latter is listed as the cheapest, but demands the largest initial outlay.
Civic Group Urges Reopening of Railroad
At the meeting of the Italian Civic Association of North Pelham held at the Town Hall on Tuesday night the organization unanimously voted in favor of resuming train service on the Westchester railroad. A petition was forwarded to the Board of Trustees urging that all possible effort be devoted toward resuming such service."
Source: MAY RENT TRACKS FROM CITY FOR TRAIN SERVICE -- Gordon Miller on Committee to Present Plan to New York City Officials, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 16, 1940, Vol. 30, No. 20, p. 1, col. 5.
"B. & W. HEADED FOR SCRAPHEAP; MAYOR WORRIED
As demolition of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway tracks and bridges to provide scrap metal for the war effort began this week, Mayor Dominic Amato of North Pelham expressed a desire to get from the Federal Government a written statement to the effect that it would be responsible for tearing down the bridge over Fifth avenue, and the bridge in Pelhamwood, and would bring the railroad-bed down to street level.
The line which started operation soe 28 years ago, providing 14,000,000 passengers rides a year, suspended service mid-night, December 31, 1937, since which time numerous rumors as to what use the defunct road-bed would be put were circulated throughout the county. In January, 1929, it was rumored that the City of New York was planning to continue subway service from 180th street, the Bronx, to Dyre avenue, just below the Pelham Manor line, at which point transfers would be issued for Westchester & Boston trains. The city bought and is operating the road as far as Dyre avenue, but travel over the other portion of the road never was resumed.
Planned Truck Highway
Previous to that proposal indignation was aroused in Pelham at the prospect of converting the railroad property into a truck highway. On February 5, 1938, Robert A. Moses, Park Commissioner of the City of New York, along with North Pelham officials, made a tour of inspection of the railroad site and reported the advisability of running a truck-highway through North Pelham on the railroad-bed. This plan met with considerable opposition and was finally abandoned.
Though a serious effort will be made to get the Federal Government, who, through the War Production Board, purchased the railroad property, to agree to carry out the work as outlined by Mayor Amato, North Pelham Village Attorney Gordon Miller told a Pelham Sun reporter Tuesday that it is doubtful that anything will be done about the concrete bridge over Fifth avenue until the end of the war. Use of the bridge as an air raid shelter hs been discussed, but its use as such would not justify the vast expense it would entail, said the Mayor.
Steel for Armaments
The line's 15,000 tons of steel will be sent to armament factories; the seventy miles of rail, according to Lacy Moore, War Department engineer, will be relaid at war plants. The 482 towers and thirty bridges which are part of the system will make a lucrative contribution to the iron and steel conservation program that the W. P. B. ordered last Monday. The trestle bridge over the Hutchinson River Parkway will be an abundant source of metal, and its demolition will begin within the next few weeks. A long train of freight cars passed from a new switch at Pine Brook, New Rochelle to the B. & W. tracks on to the New York City line where demolition began."
Source: B. & W. HEADED FOR SCRAPHEAP; MAYOR WORRIED, The Pelham Sun, May 8, 1942, p. 3, cols. 1-3.
"GARDNER MINARD, CONDITION GRAVE, AFTER 40 FT-FALL
Veteran of Two Wars, Victim of Fall in Elevator Shaft at Fifth Ave. Station of Abandoned Westchester & Boston Railway.
Dr. C. L. Weitz under whose care Gardner Minard has been since he was taken to Mount Vernon Hospital last Friday reports his condition as serious and listed his injuries as a fractured skull, broken hip, broken pelvis and left leg.
'It is remarkable that he is alive a week after sustaining such injuries,' said Dr. Weitz this morning. 'His condition is critical but somewhat improved.'
While searching for lumber and metal scrap at the Fifth avenue station of the abandoned Westchester and Boston R. R. on Friday afternoon about 2 o'clock J. Gardner Minard, 65 years old, of 169 Brookside avenue, Mount Vernon, fell through a manhole cover of an elevator shaft down forty feet through a false floor level with the ground and then struck the bottom of a sump about four feet below floor level. The shaft is located on the south side of the station and was intended for a freight elevator but never installed.
Fred Miller, of Sixth street, who was with Minard, raised an alarm at fire headquarters nearby, and an emergency call was sounded. Under direction of Chief Wallach ropes and a searchlight were
(Continued on Page Four)
Gardner Minard, Condition Grave, After 40-ft. Fall
(Continued fro Page One)
brought into play. Minard was seen at the bottom of the shaft. Firemen then broke through a doorway at ground level and with the aid of ropes Minard was brought to the surface and carried to an ambulance. He was conscious and joked with those who were aiding him, although he was very badly injured and bleeding profusely from the mouth.
At Mount Vernon Hospital a primary examination disclosed a broken left leg, fractured left elbow, possible fracture of the skull and pelvis, evidence of lung puncture caused by broken ribs on the left side. It was said that his condition was critical and his relatives were sent for.
On Saturday morning he recovered consciousness and expressed surprise at the presence of his sisters at his bedside.
J. Gardner Minard, was one of the figures associated with the early days of Pelham. He was a Spanish War veteran, a World War veteran and was for several years Commander of Walsh-Marval Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, which he founded and was the moving spirit for several years.
He was proprietor of one of Pelham's early newspapers, The Weekly Record, and was an active figure in politics, his office being in a row of stores which fronted the New Haven railroad station (then west of its present location) on First street. Afterward he operated a bar, which went out with Prohibition, and then he returned to his old business of being a newspaper correspondent, this time for The Daily Argus of Mount Vernon. He had a small interest in a paper called the Pelham Free Press in 1921. Ten years ago he was associated with the New York Athletic Club staff at Travers Island. When the closing [for World War II] of that branch of the N.Y.A.C. became certain, he decided to retire. He owns considerable real estate.
In one of his properties at 610 Sixth avenue, North Pelham he maintained an office in which he wrote articles for Veteran's service magazines. The building was the former Straehle homestead which was located on Fifth avenue until the Boston & Westchester R. R. was built, when it was moved to its present spot. In his office he displayed ll the trophies of war which he had collected, among them about 30 rifles of all kinds.
When the N. Y. Westchester & Boston R. R. was being demolished, the contractor was given permission to dump concrete rubbish on other property which he owned on Sixth avenue near the railroad. In appreciation for this the contractor gave Minard permission to take whatever salvage he could find around the station.
Two weeks ago while in company with Fred Miller, three specie bags bearing the imprint of The Federal Reserve Bank, were discovered by Minard in a small recess under the south platform of the Fifth avenue station. Minard brought them to The Pelham Sun office. In the belief that they might reveal some traces of the hiding place of some bank robbery, they were turned over to Police Chief James Whalen, who has been working with the F. B. I. on the case
It is believed that Minard was conducting another search for further and more convincing evidence of the abandoned station being possibly used as a hiding place for bank robbers when he fell through the 3-ft. wide manhole cover. Only a few weeks ago a mysterious fire broke out on the south side platform. It is known that the F. B. I., in making a search of surrounding territory in connection with a recent kidnapping case, searched thoroughly the old Fifth avenue station, and the specie bags were not there at that time. The specie bags are now at North Pelham police station in custody of Chief Whalen. To the editor of Pelham Sun Minard confided that he felt sure that someone was using the old station.
Gardner Minard was a frequent contributor to the columns of The Pelham Sun, most of his articles dealing with the Old Days in Pelham, which were read with great interest by the older residents of the Pelhams."
Source: GARDNER MINARD, CONDITION GRAVE, AFTER 40 FT-FALL -- Veteran of Two Wars, Victim of Fall in Elevator Shaft at Fifth Ave. Station of Abandoned Westchester & Boston Railway, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 4, 1942, Vol. 32, No. 35, p. 1, col. 8 & p. 4, col. 7.
"PREPARING TO REMOVE OVERHEAD STEEL BRIDGES
Metals Reserve Company Will Take Down Big Span Across Parkway Near Fourth Street.
Closing of the lower end of the Hutchinson River Parkway during the removal of the overhead bridge which carried the defunct Boston & Westchester Railroad over the parkway near Fourth street has been held up pending the beginning of work on the bridge, it was learned Tuesday, from George S. Haight, General Superintendent of the Parkway Commission. The Metals Reserve Company a government agency is undertaking the work of removal.
'They were supposed to show up Monday for the necessary permit to start work but they never appeared,' said Haight. He believes work has been postponed until the removal of a smaller bridge further up the parkway is completed. That bridge is being taken down intact for use by the Army, Haight added.
When work does begin it is likely that the portion of the parkway from Third street, Mt. Vernon to the intersection where the Hutchinson River Parkway meets the Cross County Parkway will be closed. Diverting traffic from that section of the parkway is necessary as the spans, according to engineers, will have to be dropped onto the parkway and then moved to the sides.
Detours are being planned to reroute traffic while the removal is in progress. All the steel in the defunct line has been purchased by the War Production Board."
Source: PREPARING TO REMOVE OVERHEAD STEEL BRIDGES -- Metals Reserve Company Will Take Down Big Span Across Parkway Near Fourth Street, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 2, 1942, Vol. 32, No. 13, p. 1, col. 6.
"Hutchinson Stretches To Close For W. & B. Bridge Removals
WHITE PLAINS -- The Hutchinson River Parkway will be closed to traffic next Monday, just below the Cross County Parkway intersection at huguenot Woods, New Rochelle, for probably one week. Following that reopening the parkway will be again closed, this time at the East Lincoln Avenue viaduct in Mount Vernon and on the latter occasion for perhaps another week or 10 days.
The two closings, George S. Haight, Park Superintendent, explained today, are caused by the necessity of removing overhead bridges at the two points of the abandoned New York, Westchester and Boston Railway. The scrap metal is to be taken down for the war effort and engineers say the only way the heavy girders can be removed is by lowering them to the parkway.
Monday morning's closing will become effective at 8 o'clock, said Mr. Haight, and detour facilities will be provided as follows: Eastbound traffic will leave the Pelhamdale access road of the parkway, then through New Rochelle Road, Oregon Avenue to the Cross County Parkway, Westbound traffic will leave the Cross County Parkway at Allaire Place, then over California Road to New Rochelle Road and to Hutchinson Boulevard and the Parkway.
The date for closing the Hutchinson at East Lincoln Avenue in Mount Vernon will be announced later, said Mr. Haight. At that time detour routes will be for eastbound traffic to leave the parkway at Wolf's Lane access road, east on Wolf's Lane to Fifth Avenue, to the Pelhamdale Avenue access and back on the parkway. Westbound traffic will leave the parkway. Westbound traffic will leave the parkway at East Lincoln Avenue, follow East Lincoln to Fifth Street, then to Third Street and enter the parkway again on the Third Street access road."
Source: Hutchinson Stretches To Close For W. & B. Bridge Removals, The Herald Statesman [Yonkers, NY], Jul. 15, 1942, p. 2, cols. 4-5.
"MILLION A MILE WILL SOON ONLY BE A MEMORY
Boston & Westchester R. R. Now Being Dismantled, was Victim of Changed Conditions.
Dismantling the Westchester & Boston railroad is progressing rapidly and in a few weeks the road that thirty years ago boasted it cost a million dollars a mile to construct, will be a memory. Before a road is started, the company tries to acquire as much property along the right of way as possible before the owners learn the purpose. It is customary when owners know a railroad is going through to boost the price and usually get it as the company would rather settle than go to expensive law suits. Of course if the price is exhorbitant, the suit will go on. Here is the rub; the right of way must first be surveyed in order to determine just which property is needed. It is even advisable to purchase properties in another direction in order to throw suspicious owners off the scent. These surveyors are pledged to secrecy and told just what to tell inquisitive owners who want to know why they are surveying their property.
Thirty-five years ago these surveyors appeared in North Pelham and hit a snag almost immediately. Michael McHugh put that very question to them and the ready reply was that all previous surveys of the town and village showed errors and a new survey was being made to correct those faults. He asked why they started in the middle of the village when the anchor monument was at Fifth avenue and first street from which all surveys were made. They were not prepared to answer that question and word spread quickly that something was in the wind and owners along Third street would do well to hold on to their land. Good prices were realized by all and when actual construction began, North Pelham rolled in prosperity. Although the contractors brought with them men experienced in railroad construction, there was much carpentry and work for local laborers at good wages.
Many wonder why a viaduct was not built through the village instead of an embankment; any trees had to be cut down in Pelhamwood and a deep cut dug from Seventh avenue, North Pelham to east of Webster avenue, New Rochelle. It would cost money to dispose of all that rock, dirt and tree trunks, so the trees were cut for benches to form a trestle and the fill was carted along a track laid on this trestle and dumped. The tresslet is buried in the railroad bank. Some dispute my contention the timbers of this trestle are as sound today as when buried.
When the New Haven railroad tracks were raised and dirt and rock dumped along the Pelham right of way, for many years it presented an ugly sight with not even a blade of grass showing. The Westchester line corrected this by planting its bank with trailing roses. It was a beautiful sight when they were in full bloom. They are now being smothered by bushes and trees. It does not seem possible the trees along this embankment are less than thirty years old."
Source: MILLION A MILE WILL SOON ONLY BE A MEMORY -- Boston & Westchester R. R. Now Being Dismantled, was Victim of Changed Conditions, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 17, 1942, p. 3, cols. 6-7.
"Parkway Will Detour Traffic Through Pelham
Traffic detoured from the Hutchinson River Parkway will be re-routed through the center of Pelham, when work begins 'in the next week or so' on the demolition of the Lincoln avenue viaduct which carried the defunct Boston & Westchester Railroad over the parkway, it was announced yesterday by George S. Haight, General Superintendent of the Parkway Commission.
Eastbound parkway traffic will leave the parkway at the Wolf's lane access, opposite Pelham Memorial High School, go north to Fifth avenue and re-enter the parkway at the north Pelhamdale avenue access, Chester Heights.
Westbound parkway traffic will leave the parkway at the East Lincoln avenue access, follow East Lincoln to Fifth avenue, go south on Fifth avenue to Wolf's lane and re-enter the parkway at the East Third street, Mount Vernon, access."
Source: Parkway Will Detour Traffic Through Pelham, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 17, 1942, Vol. 32, No. 15, p. 1, col. 3.
"BUST THE BRIDGE TO BLAST THE AXIS
[Image Showing Dismantling of Hutchinson River Viaduct; see immediately above]
The first section of the long steel trestle of the defunct N. Y. Westchester & Boston R. R. which spanned Hutchinson River Parkway is cut by acetylene torches and stands ready to be carted away from Second Ave.
--PHOTO BY SCHEINER."
Source: BUST THE BRIDGE TO BLAST THE AXIS, The Pelham Sun, Sep. 11, 1942, Vol. 32, No. 23, p. 1, pp. 6-7. See also THE TALLEST BRIDGE [Photo Caption], The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 11, 1942, p. 2, cols. 1-2 ("THE TALLEST BRIDGE in Westchester, the old Boston and Westchester Railroad trestle over the Hutchinson River Parkway, south of Lincoln Avenue, Mount Vernon, is shown in the last stages of demolition as workmen salvage the metal for the war effort" -- quality of photo is poor).
"NEW HAVEN GIVES PART OF TRACKS TO WAR EFFORT
Railroad Company Donates Part of Pelhamdale Avenue Bridge and Two Sets of Tracks to Metals Reserve Corp.
The Metal [sic] Reserve Corporation, a government war organization which is salvaging trolley car tracks, railroad bridges and tracks and metals in the larger units, has begun work of removing part of the bridge and railroad tracks of the New Haven R. R. Co., at Pelhamdale avenue, Pelham Manor. The railroad company has donated two of its six sets of tracks on the Shore Line branch from New Rochelle to New York City over which passenger traffic was suspended several years ago. An effort to resume passenger traffic over the line has been begun in New Rochelle.
The Village of Pelham Manor has required the salvage corporation to file a bond indemnifying the village in case of accident occuring during the work of demolitioni. The work can be complete in a few days."
Source: NEW HAVEN GIVES PART OF TRACKS TO WAR EFFORT -- Railroad Company Donates Part of Pelhamdale Avenue Bridge and Two Sets of Tracks to Metals Reserve Corp., The Pelham Sun, Jan. 15, 1943, Vol. 32, No. 41, p. 1, col. 7.
"Conference Today May Settle $90,248.59 Tax Arrearage of B. & W.
Meeting in New York on Friday Between Receiver and Municipal Representatives May Effect Final Settlement; Pelham's Problem Different from Scarsdale Which Has Reached Agreement With Receiver.
'It would cost $40,000 to take down the Fifth avenue bridge of the Boston & Westchester Railway and bring all the present right-of-way down to street level,' said Mayor Dominic Amato of North Pelham, yesterday. 'I have obtained an estimate from a contractor who could undertake the work. The law compels the railway company to take down overhead bridges, but it is not so clear as to the removal of abutments, etc., so that we shall have to watch closely to guard the interests of the village.'
Mayor Amato was commenting on the meeting of municipal representatives of the territory through which the abandoned railway runs and L. Ward Prince, representative of the defunct railway. The gathering will take place at the offices of the Guaranty Trust Comapny in New York city tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 26th) and those present will endeavor to reach an understanding as to what can be done toward closing up affairs of the railway, relating to North Pelham and the Town of Pelham.
The Town and Village of Scarsdale have reached an agreement whereby the title to the railway company property together with a small amount of cash have been transferred to the municipality in exchange for a paid-up bill for tax arrears, etc.
The situation in North Pelham is different to that of Scarsdale. Beginning at Hutchinson River parkway, the railway right-of-way consists of a 40-foot embankment extending for eight or nine blocks together with the concrete bridge spanning Fifth avenue and the stations at Fifth avenue and Pelhamwood. Before the land would be of any value to the community, it would have to be leveled, and Mayor Amato indicated that he had already obtained a figure on its probable cost.
Tax arrears due to North Pelham by the railway up to 1942 were $34,348.23 to the Town of Pelham $55,900.36, a total of $90,248.59. These amounts are based on assessments (against which the Receiver has protested) and certiorari proceedings have been instituted but not tried.
In the settlement reached with Scarsdale, the reduction of assessments was 1937, 35 per cent; 1938 40 per cent; 1939, 60 per cent, 1940, 60 per cent; 1941, 60 per cent, and 1942, 75 per cent. It is believed that effort will be made by the railway receiver's representatives to get Pelhamm Town and North Pelham village representatives and other municipalities to accept similar reductions without further prosecuting the certiorari proceedings.
Representing North Pelham and the Town of Pelham at the conference will be: Supervisor Thomas B. Fenlon, Special Counsel George Lambert, Mayor Dominic Amato, Village Attorney Gordon Miller. Besides, L. Ward Prince, Kingsley Kunhardt of the Guaranty Trust Co., John F. Kiernan and William P. Bleakley will be present."
Source: Conferernce Today May Settle $90,248.59 Tax Arrearage of B. & W. -- Meeting in New York on Friday Between Receiver and Municipal Representatives May Effect Final Settlement; Pelham's Problem Different from Scarsdale Which Has Reached Agreement With Receiver, The Pelham Sun, Feb. 25, 1943, Vol. 32, No. 47, p. 1, cols. 3-4.
"Demolition Of W. & B. Bridge, Leveling Of Tracks Proposed
PELHAM -- A proposal to tear down the Westchester and Boston Railroad Bridge over Fifth Avenue, North Pelham, and to level the railroad right-of-way through the village, will be submitted to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in New York City next week, it was announced today.
Both the Village of North Pelham and the Town want the railroad demolition job finished before they will take up the question of settling tax arrears on the property with the railroad receiver.
At a meeting of Supervisor Thomas B. Fenlon, Mayor Dominic Amato, Judge George Lambert, special attorney for the Town in the W. & B. matter, and Village Attorney Gordon Miller, the group decided to notify the Metals Reserve Corporation, a subsidiary of the R. F. C., that no action would be taken by either board until work is completed.
The railroad receiver recently attempted to get the Village and Town to agree to take over the railroad property within the community limits. Under the proposal, the Pelham officials would accept payments of tax arrears reduced to a formula worked out by the receiver.
Under this formula, the appraised value of the land would be deducted from the tax arrears figure and balance paid the Town and Village, which then would take title to the land.
Under the original contract entered into by the communities and the Metal Reserve Corporation for the demolition of the line, the Corporation was to remove the Fifth Avenue bridge and leave the site in a safe condition. Representatives of the Town and Village contend the embankment, left as it is, is unsafe and will crumble as the elements work on it.
It is estimated that $60,000 would be needed to remove the embankment if the Town and Village were required to do it."
Source: Demolition Of W. & B. Bridge, Leveling Of Tracks Proposed, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 1, 1943, p. 12, cols. 2-3.
"Demolition Of Fifth Avenue Bridge Will Be Carried Out By The Reserve Metals Corporation As Per Contract
Agreement With the Receiver for the New York Boston and Westchester Railway Was That the Corporation Would Demolish All the Bridges of the Company in North Pelham; Fifth Ave. Structure Mostly Concrete.
The railroad arch of the defunct N. Y. Westchester & Boston Railway, which spans Fifth avenue at Third street, North Pelham will be removed by the Metals Reserve Corporation through the Lipsitt Company sub-contractor who slvaged the other six bridges of the railway through the village.
This decision was arrived at during a conference on Friday at the Town Hall, at which I. J. Canton, attorney, and M. Dolcher, chief engineer and A. Lipsitt president of the Contracting Co. confered with Attorney Kiernan representing the receiver of the railway, and Supervisor Tom Fenlon and Attorney George Lambert for the Town and Village of North Pelham.
The outcome of the conference according to Judge Lambert was that the Metals Reserve Corporation will live up to its contract to take down all the bridges in North Pelham, which will mean demolition of the Fifth avenue crossover. Chief Engineer Dolcher who was borrowed from the B. & O. for railroad knowledge, indicated that the Fifth avenue bridge would 'practically last for ever' if allowed to remain.
Judge Lambert said that decision ended all controversy between the Metals Reserve Corporation which is a Federal body and the village over the bridges. The question of leveling the railroad embankments down to grade is something else, to be settled between the receiver for the railroad and Judge Lambert was not sanguine about that. The best estimate is that it would cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to reduce the embankment to street level. The question of where to find the money from the limited amount at the disposal of the receiver appears to be a big problem, which will be taken up by the Town and Village committee and the receiver at a meeting in the near future."
Source: Demolition Of Fifth Avenue Bridge Will Be Carried Out By The Reserve Metals Corporation As Per Contract -- Agreement With the Receiver for the New York Boston and Westchester Railway Was That the Corporation Would Demolish All the Bridges of the Company in North Pelham; Fifth Ave. Structure Mostly Concrete, The Pelham Sun, Jun. 24, 1943, Vol. 33, No. 12, p. 1, cols. 6-7.
"Would Not Demolish B. & W. Arches Until War Is Terminated
Metals Reserve Corporation Offers to Give North Pelham Contract That Fifth Avenue and Highbrook Avenue Arches Will Eventually Be Removed; Board Rejects Offer.
Firmly rejected by the Board of Trustees of North Pelham last night was the proposal of the Metals Reserve Corporation to enter into a contract with the Board whereby it would agree to remove the railway arches of the Westchester & Boston Railway after the war.
'They are just asking us to sign a contract whereby they agree to do something at a future and undetermined date,' said Trustee Shirley Guard in leading the opposition to its acceptance.
There are two railway arches -- one spanning Fifth avenue and one across Highbrook avenue in Pelhamwood, which will be torn down under the terms of this contract.
The receiver for the railroad has flatly refused to entertain any responsibility for returning the roadbed to its orginal grade. To remove the arches and let the embankment remain would be an eyesore. It is a problem to which the Trustees will give much more consideration before signing any contracts."
Source: Would Not Demolish B. & W. Arches Until War Is Terminated -- Metals Reserve Corporation Offers to Give North Pelham Contract That Fifth Avenue and Highbrook Avenue Arches Will Eventually Be Removed; Board Rejects Offer, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 12, 1943, p. 1, cols. 1-2.
"Village Weighs Plans To Cut Old Rail Spans
NORTH PELHAM -- A proposal for demolition of the Fifth Avenue and Highbrook Avenue bridges of the defunct Boston and Westchester Railroad, submitted by John Kiernan, attorney for the railroad's receiver, was being studied today by town officials preparatory to a conference here later this week when contracts for the work will be considered in detail.
The stumbling block in present negotiations is the desire by Pelham authorities to have the entire right-of-way brought to ground level, as against the plan of the Metals Reserve Company, a subsidiary of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, to take down only the bridges over the streets.
A proposal submitted by Mr. Kiernan to Supervisor Thomas B. Fenlon comprises plans and specifications prepared by Jesse Canton of Washington, D. C., attorney for Metals Reserve.
Mr. Canton said that Metals Reserve would recognize its liability to remove the bridges, but contended that this liability extended only to the bridges over the streets, and not any abutments or embankments.
Under the contract drawn by Mr. Canton, the work of removing the bridges would be done within a year after the war's end or before April 15, 1946. On Fifth Avenue the arch over the street would be cut away and the portion of the old station bove Fifth Avenue and 20 feet on either side of it also would be demolished. The base of the arch would be left standing on both sides of the street, the cutting of the arch commencing about 12 feet above the sidewalk level and proceeding vertically through the arch ring, about 15 feet more to the bottom of the fill. The fill above the arch cut would then be sloped to 45 degrees. The result would be that a concrete wall approximately 27 feet high would remain on each side of the avenue. The two walls would be 50 feet apart, that is, the width of the street, and the upper part of the walls would be rough and jagged.
The Highbrook Avenue bridge would be removed in the same manner.
It was estimated that the Fifth Avenue work would cost about 15 times as much as the work at Highbrook Avenue, the whole job being figured at $25,000 to $30,000.
Supervisor Fenlon said today he was opposed to any demolition job which would leave the two avenues in an unsightly condition, and that he has discussed the matter with Mayor Dominic Amato and Village Attorney Gordon Miller of North Pelham. He said he understood they had the same views in this respect.
A meeting on the proposal will be held by the Supervisor, the Mayor and village and special town attorneys later this week when the contracts and plans will be studied.
Justice of the Peace George Lambert has been special counsel for the town on this matter since February, 1940. He was compensated for his services up to December, 1941, and then put on a contingent fee basis by the old Town Board. Judge Lambert's opinion on the right of the Town to compel the removal of the entire structure is being awaited, since the receiver's attorney denied last June that the Town had such a right."
Source: Village Weighs Plans To Cut Old Rail Spans, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 15, 1943, p. 8, cols. 1-2.
"Proposal To Remove B. & W. Bridges If Accepted Would Leave Ragged Unsightly Concrete After Demolition
Meeting of Town and Village Officials on Friday Will Probably Reject Offer and Seek Means to Compel Orderly Disposal of Defunct R. R. by Federal Agency Which Removed Metal Bridges.
At a meeting held at the office of John Kiernan, attorney for the Receiver of the defunct N. Y., Boston & Westchester Railway this week, Supervisor Thomas B. Fenlon received the proposals of the Metals Reserve Corporation regarding the removal of the Fifth Avenue and Highbrook Avenue railroad bridges. The offer comprised proposed contracts, plans and specifications which were prepared by Mr. Jesse Canton of Washington, D. C., Attorney for the Metals Reserve Company, a Reconstruction Finance Corp. subsidiary.
Mr. Canton, who attended the conference stated that the Metals Reserve would recognize its liability to remove the bridges, but contended that that liability extended only to the bridges over the streets and not to any abutments or embankments. The Town of Pelham and the Village of North Pelham are endeavoring to have the Metals Reserve Company or the Receiver of the railway remove the entire structure and restore the grade. So far, both the Receiver and the Metals Reserve Company have refused to do that.
Under the contrct drawn by Mr. Canton the work of removing the bridges would be done within a year after the war's end or before April 15, 1946. On Fifth avenue the arch over the street would be cut away and the portion of the old station above Fifth Avenue and 20 feet on either side of it would also be demolished. The base of the arch would be left
(Continued on Page 8)
Proposal to Remove Bridge of W. & B.
(Continued from Page 1)
standing on both sides of the street, the cutting of the arch commencing about 12 feet above the sidewalk level and proceeding about 15 feet more to the bottom vertically through the arch ring of the fill. The fill above the arch cut would then be sloped to 45 degrees. The result would be that a concrete wall approximately 27 feet high would remain on each side of the avenue. The two walls would be 50 feet apart, i.e., the width of the street, and the upper parts of the walls would be rough, and jagged.
The Highbrook avenue bridge would be removed in the same manner.
It was estimated that the Fifth avenue work would cost about 15 times as much as the work at Highbrook Ave., the whole job being figured between $25,000 and $30,000.
Supervisor Fenlon said today that he was opposed to any demolition job which would leave the two avenues in an unsightly condition and that he had discussed the matter with Mayor Dominic Amato and Village Attorney Gordon Miller of North Pelham before the meeting and that he understood that they had the same view in this respect.
A meeting on the proposals will be held by Supervisor Fenlon, Mayor Dominic Amato, Village Attorney Gordon Miller of North Pelham and Judge George Lambert Special Attorney for the Town of Pelham on Friday morning at the Town Hall when the contracts and plans will be gone over in detail.
Judge Lambert has been special counsel for the Town on this matter since February, 1940. He was compensated for his services to the Town for the period to December, 1941, and then put on a contingent fee basis by the former Town Board. He was unable to attend the meeting in New York. His opinion on the right of the Town to compel the removal of the entire structure is being awaited since the Receiver's Attorney denied that the Town has such a right last June."
Source: Proposal To Remove B. & W. Bridges If Accepted Would Leave Ragged Unsightly Concrete After Demolition -- Meeting of Town and Village Officials on Friday Will Probably Reject Offer and Seek Means to Compel Orderly Disposal of Defunct R. R. by Federal Agency Which Removed Metal Bridges, The Pelham Sun, Sep. 16, 1943, p. 1, cols. 5-6 & p. 8, col. 8.
"Parley Monday On W-B Spans
PELHAM -- A meeting to discuss the proposed demolition of the Fifth and Highbrook Avenue bridges of the old Boston and Westchester will be held Monday at the Town Hall, Supervisor Thomas B. Fenlon accounced today.
The stumbling block in present negotiations is the desire of Pelham authorities to have the entire right of way brought to street level, as against the plan of the Metals Reserve Company, a subsidiary of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, to take down only the bridges over the streets.
Village and special town attorneys, it is said, will be prepared at the meeting to present the law by which the town could compel Metals Reserve to lower the entire structure. The railroad receiver's attorney denied last June that the town had such a right."
Source: Parley Monday On W-B Spans, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 22, 1943, p. 9, col. 4.
"Insure Railway Property.
Public liability insurance on the former N. Y., Westchester and Boston Railway property was approved last night by the village board of North Pelham, which placed a policy with the Globe Indemnity for $38.50. The property was acquired through tax arrears settlement.
Ceilings are beginning to fall through leaks in the roof in the Fifth avenue station. Heavy rain this week accentuated the damage, Street Commissioner Anthony Smith told the board last night."
Source: Insure Railway Property, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 14, 1944, p. 5, col. 7.
"TO RAZE STATION AND FIFTH AVE. ARCH OF B. & W.
Board of Trustees at Special Meeting Ask for Estimates on Demolition Work; Parking Space is to be Provided.
On Friday night a special meeting at the Board of Trustees of North Pelham requested contractor Frank Breen of the Bronx to prepare an estimate of the cost of tearing down the Boston & Westchester Railway right of way and demolishing the Fifth avenue station and arch. The vacant space may be developed as a parking station for care of shoppers -- a need now and a necessity of the near future, according to Mayor Dominic Amato.
Engineer George Godfrey was instructed to obtain further bids for the construction of a 48-inch drain from Fourth avenue to the Hutchinson River down First street. This will relieve residents of First and Second avenue from storm water which now enters their cellars. Permission has been obtained by Mayor Amato to have an outlet into Hutchinson River at First street and the Hutchinson River parkway."
Source: TO RAZE STATION AND FIFTH AVE. ARCH OF B. & W. -- Board of Trustees at Special Meeting Ask for Estimates on Demolition Work; Parking Space is to be Provided, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 1, 1945, Vol. 36, No. 29, p. 1, col. 6.
"Board Splits On Apartment Plan, But Votes, 3 To 2, For Hearing. . . .
To Demolish Station
The board accepted terms of Michael F. Breen, New York contractor, to demolish the Boston and Westchester Railroad station and bridge arch on Fifth Avenue for $22,000, work to begin next week. A separate contract will provide for demolition of the embankment at no cost, the company using it for fill. This will level off an area of five and a half acres for sale."
Source: Board Splits On Apartment Plan, But Votes, 3 To 2, For Hearing, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 7, 1946, p. 5, cols. 2-3.
"Bridge Demolition Now Under Way
NORTH PELHAM -- Demolition of the Fifth Avenue bridge of the old Boston and Westchester Railroad was begun yesterday by Michael F. Breen, Inc., of the Bronx. The cost is estimated at $22,000. Time limit for the job is June 30 but the corporation expects to complete the work in six weeks. Mayor Dominic Amato said today. The five acres of property which will be brought to street level by razing of the bridge will be sold, proceeds to be divided between North Pelham and the Town of Pelham."
Source: Bridge Demolition Now Under Way, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Mar. 8, 1946, p. 5, col. 4.
"Village Board Lifts No-Parking Rule On Part Of Third Street. . . .
The board made a final $2,000 payment to the Michael Breen Company of the Bronx, which hs completed the demolition of the Fifth Avenue bridge and has repaired the sidewalk at Fifth Avenue bridge and has repaired the sidewalk at Fifth Avenue and Third Street, damaged during the demolition. . . ."
Source: Village Board Lifts No-Parking Rule On Part Of Third Street, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 12, 1946, p. 15, cols. 1-2.
"Deadline Set On B. W. Sale
PELHAM -- The Town Board and the North Pelham Village Board, at a joint mmeeting Thursday night at Town Hall to discuss the proposed sale of the old Boston-Westchester right-of-way on Third Street in North Pelham gave to DiMarco and Micelo of Tuckahoe, bidders, one week to complete negotiations with Robert Smith of 213 Seventh Avenue, who seeks to purchase a part of the property from the bidders.
The Boards ruled that if negotiations are not completed by that time, the property will be readvertised for sale. Marco and Miceli have bid $525 plus the removal of the embankment. Town Supervisor Gordon Miller presided."
Source: Deadline Set On B. W. Sale, The Daily Argus [MMount Vernon, NY], Mar. 5, 1949, p. 7, col. 7.
"Matthews Refutes Charge Of Laxity On B.-W. Removal
NORTH PELHAM -- Mayor Edward J. Matthews today discounted charges of Democratic candidates for Village Trustee that the present administration had failed to find a satisfactory solution for removal of the Boston and Westchester embankment, by asserting that a determined campaign to correct this situation is being carried out.
'Solving problems by spending money is always easy,' the Mayor said.
He added that no Democratic spokesmen appeared at the meeting of the Village Board Monday night to discuss the matter.
Efforts to level the abutments have included a conference with State officials when Mayor Matthews and Trustee G. Michael Hanrahan were told the property might be reduced to street level by contractors in need of fill, without costd to the Village."
Source: Matthews Refutes Charge Of Laxity On B.-W. Removal, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Mar. 15, 1950, p. 2, col. 3.
"Town To Confer On No. Pelham Offer For B.-W. Right Of Way
PELHAM -- The proposal made by North Pelham Monday to purchase the Town's interest in the Boston and Westchester embankment for $1,500 was received with varying sentiments by the Town Board at a meeting last night, but resulted in plans to hold a joint meeting of the two boards on May 7.
In the meantime North Pelham was given permission to continue operations as usual at the municipal parking lot at Fifth Avenue and Third Street. A previous Town Board resolution insisting that the lot be opened to all residents of the Town instead of only those in North Pelham was wavied for a month until May 31, pending results of the consulations. As a result of that resolution the Village was going to close the lot April 30.
The motion to hold the joint conferences to discuss means of removing the embankment was made by Councilman Harry K. Schauffler who noted that North Pelham's proposal carried with it no guarantee that the abutments would be leveled.
Only Stretch Left
Supervisor Gordon Miller pointed out that the primary point at issue is not sale of the property but removal of the embankment. 'If North Pelham has a use in mind for the area, that is a secondary interest,' he noted. Every community in the vicinity has leveled the B and W abutments, he commented.
He explained that Councilman Robert Smith hs been working for some time on a proposal to remove the embankment, and strongly recommended a round-table discussion with Town and Village officials participating to see if any arrangement can be worked out 'even if the Town has to finance such a procedure.'
That sort of deal would mean removal of the embankments by the Town, which would subsequently reimburse itself and on sale of the property a refund for the cost of the removal would be turned back to the Town, he explained.
Councilman Schauffler said he thought the $1,500 figure was perhaps unimportant at the moment inasmuch as the chief factor is to replace the property on the tax rolls and lighten the tax burden.
Sole opponent to waiving the Board's resolution regarding current use of the parking lot was Councilman Smith who said another month's extension would be defeating the purpose.
'Legally that stand may be right,' countered Councilman Kneeland S. Durland, 'but I think it's peanuts, and I will go along with the waiver until we see if the two boards get together.'
Supervisor Miller pointed out that discussion about the use of the parking lot has been going on for three years, and although he saw no reason why the two lots could not be operated under separate regulations, he said he thought it could 'go along a little longer until we see if we can get around a table.'
Reporting that Mount Vernon has indicated its intention to appeal from the decision of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on the Fulton Avenue Bridge litigation, Town Attorney Emanuel Schwartz said an accounting of operation, maintenance and repair costs since Oct. 1944 had been made. According to the recent decision Pelham is to be reimbursed for a portion of these costs. Consultations will be arranged with the Mount Vernon corporation counsel, he said. . . ."
Source: Town To Confer On No. Pelham Offer For B.-W. Right Of Way, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 25, 1951, p. 19, cols. 1-2.
"Village And Town Boards Meet On Disposal Of B-W Buttress
PELHAM -- Attempts to bridge the gap between two municipal bodies in their approach to the problem of how to dispose of the Boston and Westchester embankments here, were made at a joint conference of the Town Board and the North Pelham Village Board of Trustees last night at Town Hall.
Admitting that the parley was held with no thought of arriving at a final decision, members of the Town Board credited the discussion with having 'the valuable result of clarifying many issues.'
The conference was called after North Pelham, which owns the former railroad right of way jointly with the Town, offered to buy the Town's interest for $1,500. At the same time Town Councilman Robert Smith had reported that a contractor who needed fill material was willing to submit a quotation for leveling the abutments.
Mayor Edward J. Matthews and the North Pelham Board of Trustees presented their $1,500 offer with the comment that although the Village has not prepared specific plans for development, it believes operation of the tract would be more feasible if handled by one municipal body instead of two and would develop the land in the best interests of the Village.
Opposed to Sale
Mayor Matthews said he was firmly opposed to selling the tract 'with the thought of obtaining another portion of taxable property,' and declared it has 'a value to North Pelham you cannot describe in arithmetical terms' in that the land contains great potential facilities for a parking area and room for a much-needed park.
Trustees G. Michael Hanrahan and William Sunkenberg said North Pelham already has rejected a number of contractors' bids for the fill, and called attention to the fact that other villages have purchased land to be turned into tax-exempt parks, the only difference being that they had made the purchases not from the Town but from outside interests.
Town Board members criticized North Pelham's proposal as 'nebulous,' requesting more definite plans, and declared that the prime responsibility for the Town to its three Villages is to reinstate the property on the tax roll.
Councilman Robert Smith said the contractor in mind was ready to use the fill now. Councilman Harry K. Schauffler said he believed removal of the embankment is the crucial issue. He suggested North Pelham be given a time limit to level the embankments, and if it fails within a specified period the Town should take over.
Several Courses Suggested
Under present conditions a time limit would be difficult to live up to, North Pelham officials replied.
Town Attorney Emanuel Schwartz suggested that both boards advertise for estimates to level the mounds, a procedure which would reduce the problem to its essentials, and then the use of the property could be discussed later.
Supervisor Gordon Miller suggested that the embankment be reduced first, after which North Pelham could purchase whichever portion it desired.
North Pelham officials pointed out that they had submitted an offer to buy the land and had heard no comment. They said it was unfair to assume that the Town Board is more interested than North Pelham in leveling the mounds, and told the Town officials: 'if you want to go ahead and get bids to see if our offer is of value, go ahead.'"
Source: Village And Town Boards Meet On Disposal Of B-W Buttress, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 11, 1951, p. 24, cols. 4-6.
"Town Makes Counter Proposal For B-W Embankment Razing
PELHAM -- Emphasizing its interest in seeing the Boston and Westchester embankments leveled as soon as possible, the Town Board last night rejected North Pelham's offer to purchase whole intest in the property, but substituted a counter proposal.
It suggested an agreement by which either Board would undertake to remove the rock pile within two years.
North Pelham's offer to buy all Town rights in the jointly-held land for $1,500 was rejected primarily on the basis of the Village's refusal to set a time limit on removal of the abutments.
Commenting favorably on the Village's desire to utilize the property, Councilman Paul Larkin voiced the Town Board's hesitancy to turn over its interest without assurance that prompt action will be taken for removal of the embankments which run from Second Street to the New Rochelle line.
Continued existence of the abutments has a 'depressive influence on adjacent property values,' Supervisor Gordon Miller commented. Demolition will see a rise in surrounding land value, he predicted.
Increased Cost Seen
Commenting on rising real estate figures, Councilman Harry K. Schauffler suggested the cost of removing the embankment will probably increase too.
In a resolution presented by councilman Schauffler, the Board suggested that the Town deed its interest to North Pelham upon removal of the embankment within two years. If the Village fails to remove it at the end of that time, title and interest of North Pelham will revert to the Town together with a reimbursement of $5,000 for loss.
If this counter proposal is not acceptable to North Pelham, the Town will make a similar proposal to the Village, it was voted, that the Town remove the embankment within two years, and upon its failure to do so, title will revert to North Pelham plus the $5,000 payment.
No restrictions were placed upon the use of the property, and the resolution was adopted unanimously.
Under the present agreement with North Pelham, by which the Village holds administrative power, the Town could not receive bids for leveling the structure, Supervisor Miller noted.
The Board voted to close the tax office on Saturdays during July and August and the first week in September on the request of Robert Cremins, tax receiver.
A resolution of condolence was ordered sent to the family of A. C. Nimphius, former fire commissioner who died Sunday. Next meeting was set for Juy 2."
Source: Town Makes Counter Proposal For B-W Embankment Razing, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], June 12, 1951, p. 5, cols. 1-2.
"Matthews Assails Town Board as B-W Proposal Comes Late
NORTH PELHAM -- With no official word from the Town Board outlining its new proposition for removal of the Boston and Westchester embankments until just before the Village Board met last night, Mayor Edward J. Matthews rapped the Town for its 'discourtesy shown to the elected representatives of the Village of North Pelham.'
A week ago the town adopted a resolution calling for a proposal to be submitted to North Pelham, whereby each governmental body would have a chance to demolish the mmuch-discussed embankments within two years or turn back the job with a $5,000 payment for damages if the work was not done.
The Town's letter describing the proposal, which arrived at 7:30 P.M., according to the Mayor, was referred to the Committee of the Whole.
'The lateness of the delivery of this communication and the manner in whicch this proposal has been handled, casts doubt on the good faith of the entire matter,' Mayor Matthews declared. He also said it 'is sterling proof of why relationships between the Town and this Village are as discordant as they are.'
Describing progress of the matter to date, Mayor Matthews, in a prepared statement, referred to the joint meeting between the North Pelham and Town boards, at which 'it was revealed that members of the Village board were much better informed than those of the Town board; but that was because we had a concrete plan available. We indicated that we felt the property should be used in a manner that would benefit North Pelham and in that way, the Town. We believe this includes the creation of a park, parking area and a playground.
Mayor Matthews also recalled that Village officials had declared proper use of the property was the responsibility of North Pelham, that the Town has no legal responsibility for the internal operations of Villages, and that the Village suggested the Town get specific estimates on removing the embankment 'independently of us, to avoid misunderstandings and permit unbiased bargaining.'
Referring to the Town proposition, the Mayor said, 'it is rumored that the sum of $5,000, said sum being taxpayers' money, is being tossed around as though it was of no consequence. Secondly, we are told we are going to be given something for which this Board offered to pay $1,500. It would be interesting to know by what legal feats this will be accomplished. The Town Board appears to be waiving a sum of money that rightfully belongs to taxpayers.
'Could this be the reaction to a guilty conscience because of an unnecessary increase in the rent of this Village for the same quarters used in the Town Hall, as in previous years, especially since the Town budget shows a decrease in cost of operation?
'This Village is ready to proceed with plans for using the B and W properties as soon as we have sole title to them, with no strings attached. We hope this will be soon. We also hope that future negotiations can be conducted in an atmosphere more commensurate with the dignity and position of the bodies involved.' . . ."
Source: Matthews Assails Town Board as B-W Proposal Comes Late, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 19, 1951, p. 3, cols. 3-4.
"B-W Demolition Plan Deferred For Month, Matthews Reports
NORTH PELHAM -- Due to pending negotiations the Village of North Pelham will not be able to answer the Town Board for a month on its counter proposal for the removal of the Boston-Westchester embankment, Mayor Edward J. Matthews reported at a meeting of the Village Board lst night.
Mayor Matthews said: 'This board is negotiating a transaction for the disposal of the embankment abutments involved, which if consummated, will be advantageous to this Village, and in turn to the Town. Further details cannot be released at this time.'
A decision from the negotiations is expected within the next thirty days therefore it is not possible to take any action now, Mayor Matthews added.
In June the Town Board made a proposal which stipulated that the embankment be removed within two years or the full title and interest of North Pelham revert to the Town with a reimbursement of $5,000 for 'loss.' If this was not acceptable the Town offered to work the agreement in reverse and remove the embankment or lose title and $5,000. In the original proposal the Village of North Pelham offered to buy the Town rights in the jointly held property for $1,500. . . ."
Source: B-W Demolition Plan Deferred For Month, Matthews Reports, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 18, 1951, p. 4, cols. 2-3.
"Town Reports No Word On B-W Embankment From No. Pelham
PELHAM -- North Pelham's thirty-day period for negotiations to remove the Boston-Westchester embankment are over, but the Town Board has not yet received a reply to its counter proposal for disposal. Town Supervisor Gordon Miller announced at a meeting of the Town Board last night at Town Hall. . . .
The Town Board has not yet received a reply to its counter proposal for disposal, Town Supervisor announced at a meeting of the Town Board last night at Town Hall.
On Sept. 17, Mayor Edward J. Matthews notified the Town Board that the Village was engaged in negotiations for the disposal of the embankment with a decision expected within thirty days. Due to these negotiations, the Village Board was unable to answer the Town's proposal, he explained.
In June the Town Board made the proposal which stipulated that the embankment be removed within two years or the full title and interest of North Pelham revert to the Town with a reimbursement of $5,000 for 'loss.' If this was not acceptable, the Town offered to work the agreement in reverse and remove the embankment or lose title and $5,000. . . ."
Source: Town Reports No Word On B-W Embankment From No. Pelham, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 23, 1951, p. 13, cols. 3-4.
"North Pelham Sale Of B-W Fill Stymied, Town Can Take Title
NORTH PELHAM -- The North Pelham Village Board ended the long-drawn dispute over removal of the old Boston-Westchester embankment last night when it voted to accept the Town Board's counter proposal for the work. The action followed a report from Mayor Edward J. Matthews that negotiations for disposal of the fill to State agencies had been stymied.
In June 1951, the Town Board offered to remove the embankment within two years or surrender its full title and $5,000 to the Village of North Pelham. It suggested the village make the same offer.
For the past seven months, the North Pelham Village Board has delayed answering the proposal pending negotiations to have the Boston - Westchester embankment fill used by the State for the New England Thruway project.
Last week, J. J. Darcy, district engineer for New York City, informed Mayor Matthews that all funds now available to the State Department of Public works would be used to further the Buffalo Thruway, which goes through Yonkers.
Small sums will be allocated when available to New Rochelle and to acquire title to properties for the New England Thruway for which the Boston-Westchester fill could be used, Mr. Darcy explained.
Funds May Come Through
Colonel W. S. Chapin, engineering assistant to the state commissioner, said that the New England Thruway Authority and its fill project may be revived in May or June, when the authorities should have funds on hand as a result of the proposed sale of a bond issue.
'Under circumstances other than the present emergency, the Boston-Westchester embankments and abutments would have been
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North Pelham Sale of B-W Fill Stymied, Town Can Take Title
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reduced by now,' Mayor Matthews reported.
Reviewing the long negotiations with the State officials, Mayor Matthews said: 'The Village is indebted to Comptroller J. Ray McGovern for his unfailing interest in our welfare.'
In addition to negotiation with the State on the proposed fill job, the Village also was in touch with officials in New Rochelle concerning the possibility of using the fill for construction projects there, including a new school.
In a resolution accepting the Town's offer, Village Board members advised the Town Board members advised the Town Board that they have received an offer for an important portion of the Boston-Westchester properties. If the Town is not interested in the offer, the Village must give it immediate consideration because of a time limit.
New Sale Deal Offered
The prospective purchaser has offered to buy the parcels running from the east side of Fourth Avenue to the west side of Sixth Avenue if the embankments are removed by the seller and the Zoning Ordinance is changed to permit installation and operation of a gasoline station on the north-east corner of Fifth Avenue and Third Street, together with an automatic car washing station facing on Fouth Avenue.
Other stipulations are that the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Third Street be used for business purposes and parking be permitted on the Sixth Avenue frontage.
The Village Board also set forth six provisions under which it would accept the Town's offer. These cover liability, restoration of certain properties to the Village tax rolls as non-exempt property, village sharing of any proceeds forthcoming, an option for the Village to purchase land for public purpose, and boundaries of embankment to be removed.
Acting on a recommendation from the Pelham Civic Association, the board voted to move the bus stop under the New Haven Railroad overpass on Wolf's Lane to eliminate the traffic bottleneck at that point. Village Attorney Harold Pritchard was instructed to prepare a police regulation to become effective when Pelham Heights takes coordinating action. The boundary lines of both villages meet at the congested area.
The regulation calls for the present bus stop to be moved north to the corner of Pelhamwood Avenue and Fifth Avenue, North Pelham, and prohibits parking on the east side of Fifth Avenue from Pelhamwood to the south boundary of the village. . . ."
Source: North Pelham Sale Of B-W Fill Stymied, Town Can Take Title, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan 18, 1952, p. 1, cols. 7-8, & p. 13, cols. 1-2.
"Town Board Rejects N. Pelham Stipulations On B-W Demolition
PELHAM -- North Pelham's newest 'offer' in this protracted dispute over removal of the Boston-Westchester embankment was rejected by the Town Board last night, but Supervisor Gordon Miller said a meeting would be arranged with the Village Board in an effort to iron out the differences.
Two of the six conditions in North Pelham's answer to a prior Town proposal were 'not acceptable' to the Town Board. The stipulations called for the sharing of proceeds with the Village if the embankment is removed at a cost of less than $55,000 through use in a public project, and granting the Village an option to purchase parcels at $5,000 a block.
'We had no ifs, ands and buts in our proposal.' Councilman Robert Smith said 'It will cost $10,000 a block to level the embankment, and it's not fair to give it to the Village for $5,000. Why should the people in Pelham Manor and Pelham Heights pay for the benefit of North Pelham. If we cannot reach an agreement on these two conditions, we might as well forget the whole deal.'
Cost An Issue
Along with the two conditions, there are a lot of minor details that can be straightened out at a meeting with the Village Board. Supervisor Miller said 'We need an estimate of the cost of removal of the embankment. I asked the North Pelham Board for the information they have, but they refused to give it to us,' he asserted. Mr. Miller read a letter from Mayor Matthews of North Pelham stating: 'The public interests would be best served if the Town Board made an independent survey.'
Councilman Smith said he would get an estimate of the cost of leveling from a contractor. Mr. Miller expressed doubt over some of the data in a letter which the Village Board sent to residents of the Village.
'The letter said all the materials in the embankment are acceptable by the state for its projects. According to reports I have had, there are certain restrictions on the quality of the fill,' Mr. Miller said. He said he would get a report from the State Engineering Department.
'The letter to the residents also implies that if we leave the fill there long enough, the State will be glad to have it.' Mr. Miller added.
'Blank Check' Seen
Another angle to the Boston-Westchester problem came up when Mr. Miller pointed out that the North Pelham proposal was not complete because it did not cover the east side of Seventh Avenue to the New Rochelle line, and the question of removal of the Highbrook Avenue bridge.
'The Village of North Pelham received $41,000 for bridge removal, and removed the Fifth Avenue bridge for $25,000. The Highbrook Avenue bridge is a village problem,' Mr. Miller said.
Reporting on a meeting of the County Board of Supervisors, Mr. Miller said he was opposed to the proposal that the County turn over to the State any property acquired for the Pelham-Port Chester highway for use of the New England Thruway."
Source: Town Board Rejects N. Pelham Stipulations On B-W Demolition, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 5, 1952, p. 11, cols. 5-6.
"No. Pelham, Town Boards Set Feb. 25 Meeting On B.-W. Cut
NORTH PELHAM -- In an effort to reach an agreement on removal of the Boston - Westchester Railroad embankment, the North Pelham Village Board and Town Board will hold a joint meeting to discuss the problem on Feb. 25. Mayor Edward J. Matthews of North Pelham announced this morning.
Arrangements for the meeting were made by Mayor Matthews and Supervisor Gordon Miller after the Town Board rejected the village's latest 'offer' at a meeting last Monday. Two of the six conditions in the village's acceptance of a prior Town proposal were 'not acceptable' to the Town Board.
Mayor Matthews said: '. . . . In its acceptance the Village Board continued to maintain its position that the land involved was extremely important for the future development of North Pelham, providing as it does the only space usable for off-strength parking and parks. Hence the Village included conditions will be the subject for the meeting.' The meeting will be open to the public, Mayor Matthews added.
The regular meeting of the North Pelham Board, which was scheduled for tonight, has been adjourned to Wednesday. Village officials will attend the Civil Defense meeting tonight in St. Clare's Hall."
Source: No. Pelham, Town Boards Set Feb. 25 Meeting On B.-W. Cut, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 11, 1952, p. 3, cols. 1-2.
"Town And North Pelham Boards Stop Sniping, Push B-W Sale
PELHAM -- Turning away from the inter-board squabbles of the past few months, the North Pelham Village and Town Trustees are both going after prospective purchasers in the long struggle to get rid of the Boston-Westchester embankment.
Last night Mayor Edward J. Matthews and Town Supervisor Gordon Miller announced that they are continuing negotiations to remove the rubble.
Mr. Miller said he had received no word from the Village Board on the ten-day ultimatum to accept the Town's demolition offer without qualifciations.
Mr. Matthews said the Village Board is studying an offer made by Dudley C. Jackson, real estate broker, for a prospective purchaser. The offer was made originally to the Town Board and forwarded to the Village.
Mr. Jackson's prospect guarantees removal of the embankment within one year. Both Town and Village Boards reported negotiations with contractors, but no details were revealed.
Tax Rolls An Issue
Barrier to complete agreement between the two boards is whether or not certain parcels are retained by North Pelham or place on the Town tax roll.
Mr. Matthews said: 'It hs been, and will continue to be the policy of the North Pelham Board to be interested only in such disposition of it as will provide for retention by North Pelham of the areas which are essential to the proper future development of this village.
'Disposing of it only to return it to the tax rolls, which is apparently the policy advocated by the Supervisor and the members of the Town Board, will not accomplish our purpose and is not in the best interest of our residents and merchants.
'We shall, therefore, continue to seek a plan for the disposition of the property that will accomplish the policy which we have adopted. We are ready and willing to cooperate with the Supervisor and the Town Board in any sale or other disposition of the Boston-Westchester property that will accomplish this purpose.'
$15,000 Offer Rejected
The Town Board has objected to this condition that the Village retain part of the Boston-Westchester property even though the Village offered to pay $15,000 for the land. Mr. Miller said it would defeat the Town's chance for profit to give the land to the Village at a fixed price when there was a chance to make more money.
The Town Board turned down the $15,000 offer when it rejected North Pelham's acceptance of the Town's prior proposal to remove the embankment within two years or surrender its full title and $5,000. The door was left open for the Village to work the agreement in reverse and thereby take title. At present, the property is held jointly by the Town and Village.
Mayor Matthews announced that the Village has turned down an offer made on Jan. 15 by a prospective purchaser through John Geoghegan, real estate broker, because the proposal included plans for the operation of a gasoline station and a car-washing unit in the area from Fourth to Fifth Avenue on the North side of Third Street. He said Mr. Geoghegan is working to obtain a new offer from the purchaser."
Source: Town And North Pelham Boards Stop Sniping, Push B-W Sale, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 29, 1952, p. 9, cols. 2-3.
"Wreckers Start B-W Demolition
NORTH PELHAM -- Long-awaited demolition of the Boston-Westchester embankment started this morning when heavy equipment owned by A. D'Angelo and Sons, contractors, went to work on the huge pile of dirt and rock.
Aiming for a Nov. 15 deadline, the workers started on the embankment at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Third Street. The North Pelham Board of Trustees and the Town Board agreed last week to award the D'Angelo company the contract to remove the embankment at a cost of $36,000."
Source: Wreckers Start B-W Demolition, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 14, 1952, p. 11, col. 4.
"B-W Demolition Deadline Moved Up To Dec. 1
PELHAM -- Demolition deadline on the Boston-Westchester embankment has been advanced 10 days -- the job to be completed Dec. 1.
After similar action by the North Pelham Village Board, the Town Board last night voted the time extension to Anthony D'Angelo and Sons Inc., contractors, now working on the project.
The extension was granted on the condition that the liability insurance coverage be maintained and that there be no compensation beyond the original $36,000 costd.
Removal of the embankment has been completed from Seventh Avenue to Third Avenue along Third Street. The remaining portion to be completed is from Third to Second Avenues."
Source: B-W Demolition Deadline Moved Up To Dec. 1, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Nov. 11, 1952, p. 4, col. 3.
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