May 8, 1875, The Daily Graphic, THE STRUGLE OVER THE OWNERSHIP OF THE LONG ISLAND AND STATEN ISLAND MARSH LANDS--MISCELLANEOUS NOTES.
[REGULAR CORRESPONDENCE OF THE DAILY GRAPHIC.]
ALBANY. May 6.—The contest over the bill to re-peal the somewhat famous and concededly infamous Marsh Land act to-day was sharp and somewhat protracted. The original act, passed in 1868 and amended in 1869, is very severe in its provisions giving and granting to a company power to enter upon all the marsh lands on Long and Staten Islands and reclaim them despite the present owners. The company have succeeded several years in defeating all efforts to amend or repeal the bill, but the determined effort made this winter by Colonel OaKley and Mr. Prince, members from Queens County, have been thus far successful, in so far as the obtaining of bill repealing the act is concerned, after the company shall have been paid $25,000 for the money alleged to have been expended. The ostensible purpose of the act was to reclaim the marsh lands belonging to the State, whereas the fact is that owners of private lands have been annoyed and despoiled of individual realty. There is no objection on the part of any one to the marsh land drainage feature of the bill, but the company has become possessed of the entire water front on Long and Staten Islands—embracing about 300 miles. The late Robert J. Walker said it was the most valuable franchise ever granted to any company by any State. This company took in about 150,000 acres, and they claim all the water front below high water mark and all the marsh lands, and it is claimed that the value of their charter is $79,000,000. The officers of this company are principally residents of foreign states. No man owning land fronting on the ocean, sound, or bays can build a dock below high watermark. The fight this evening became so severe that the fifty-seventh rule was enforced with more severity than it has been during the session. The friends of the act were present and working sharply. Never before have the friends of repeal and compensation been able to get it through the Senate. Mr. Wachner moved to recommit the bill, with instructions to strike out the enacting clause. Mr. Prince moved to recommit and amend. Mr. Vedder moved a substitute that the Commissioners of the Land Office investigate and report the amount due the company, which was accepted by Mr. Prince. Mr. Wachner's motion was voted down and the substitute adopted, and the bill passed— yeas, 85, nays, 24—and as amended it goes to the Senate, and the amendment will doubtless be concurred in.
April 23, 1874, The Evening Post, THE DRAINAGE OF MARCH LANDS.
ALBANY, April 23.--The Senate Judiciary Committee has made a report upon the bill to repeal chapter 564 [?] of the Laws of 1868 relative to the drainage of marshes on the shores of Long Island and Staten Island, and also chapter [ ] of the Laws of 1869 [?], amending the same. The committee are of opinion that the original bill, not having a three-fifths vote, and being in their judgment a bill in its nature and subject requiring a three-fifths vote, did not have a constitutional vote on its passage, but that the amending bill seems to have the requisite forms of legislation. In view of these facts the committee recommends the adoption of a resolution referring the matter to the Attorney-General to inquire if the act of Law was passed by the authority and with the legislative forms requisite to give it legality, and it he shall be of opinion that it does not conform to the requirements of the constitution that he be further directed to take such measures as may be necessary to obtain a judicial decision thereon.
February 25, 1870, New-York Herald, Page 5, Column 1,
Some sharp-sighted speculators squeezed through a recent Legislature a charter that is now raising a huge structure (of stocks and bonds) on a muddy foundation, it may be said that this Company is one of the "big things" that occasionally secure legislative sanction—for a consideration. Its charter authorizes it to drain the swamps, if not the pockets, of people around New-York and Brooklyn; Long and Staten Islands are its specified localitIes. Like some of the various Manhattan, Market, Gas, Bridge, Warehouse, and other Companies now slipping through our Legislature, this Marsh-Draining Corporation has almost unlimited scope for watering its stock beyond its capital—which capital is modestly limited, to a million, a trifling percentage, of which being enough to grease the wheels of the mighty machine—and to manufacture any amount of bonds based on its franchises and on such lands as it may seize—having the power of taking property from its owners, draining it as it likes, the assessing the owners for alleged benefits, and selling the lands for non-payment of asessment. Moderate ingenuity, under such a liberal charter, and with brilliant examples in the Tammany Ring, may readily roll up a few millions in this way, without risking any large investment. And yet—such is the perversity of human nature is these degenerate days—some ungrateful owners of water-lots thus benevolently done for, actually grumble at the proposed tyranny, if not rascality, of their patriotic benefactors. At any rate, Gov. Hoffman has just named three Commissioners (Van Rensselear Richmond, the State Engineer; John T. Agnew of New-York, and Henry Chesebro of Ontario,) to fix the sum payable to the State for submerged lands "beyond the lines of riparian ownership included with in the dykes made or to be made for draining the marshes. And this Marsh -Draining Company is about applying to the Supreme Court in Brooklyn for Commissioners to assess damages on swamp-owners, who are at loggerheads with their benefactors about the mode and cost of these bog-draining and bond-manufacturing operations. The reclamation of large tracts of marshy lands around the harbor of New-York is a matter of vast importance to the health of New-York, Brooklyn, Newark, and the surrounding thickly-settled country--an enterprise worthy of the best men and heaviest purses in that region.
Digest of the laws of the State of New York: comprising the Revised statutes and statutes of general interest in force on January 1, 1874, Volume 1