Fridley page 62

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McDowell Explains Under Secretary of War Asked His Aid In Effecting A Settlement
Earl Sutton, Member of Landowners’ Committee, Favors Fight for Full Option Price

            Letters, asking owners of unexercised optioned land in the TNT area to state the per cent reduction in price they might accept, were mailed to 146 landowners today by R. Newton McDowell, Kansas City contractor and Government optioner of the 16,000 acre tract.
            McDowell’s letter followed a telegram exchange with Undersecretary of War R. P. Patterson, in which the latter asked the optioner to cooperate on renegotiation of options at prices which will warrant closings of acquisitions by direct purchase.
            Although letters were not received this afternoon, landowners who are involved denounced the proposal when the information was circulated.
            Earl R. Sutton, a member of the landowners committee, said it was the general opinion of members that no reduction should be accepted. Sutton said he would fight for the full amount of the option price and would go to court if necessary. He termed the option a valid contract with the Government and could see no reason for accepting a smaller than stipulated amount.
            McDowell inclosed a copy of the telegram exchange between himself and Patterson.
            The letters addressed to Unpaid Landowners in TNT plant Site area follows:
            “I negotiated your option in good faith and it was accepted by the War Department. I could make a speech for hours on the subject of the Government repudiating its obligations but apparently the power that be are not impressed with this line of reasoning.
            “I have been wondering whether or to what extent some of you would suffer by reason of condemnation proceedings which have been announced by the Under Secretary of War. Obviously this will impose on you the burden and expense of lawyers fees, expert witness fees and possible appeals by the Government—also Government counsel claims that no disturbance damages will be allowed if the condemnation proceedings go through. All this is of course utterly unjust and a matter for which neither you nor I is responsible.
            “You will note that the Under Secretary of War has asked me to cooperate in renegotiating lower prices on accepted options and you will note my reply. Therefore I am not urging you to do anything. You know the state of your own affairs. You know how badly you need money immediately.
            It may be better for you to take a realistic view of this thing and determine in your own mind whether or not you can afford to carry on this legal fight or whether it would be advisable for you to offer to the Government a reduction of 10 or 20 percent or whatever you are willing to take on your present option price providing the Government will pay you the cash within ten days. This is not a trading offer. You will have to determine your percent and stand on it.
            “I understand condemnation proceedings are to be filed immediately and time is the essence—whether or when they will be I do not know. I am not urging you to do anything and I have exhausted myself on the subject of repudiation of obligations by the Government.
            McDowell authorizes the parties to wire him the following message collect.
             “Pursuant to your letter of March 20 you are authorized to transmit to War Department that I will agree to a _____ percent reduction in my option contract price previously accepted by the War Department.
* * * * *
            A 60-year-old St. Louis woman yesterday wired an an appeal to Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt to intervene and induce the government to pay options granted on the Weldon Springs, Mo., TNT plant site, while a group of St. Charles landowners sent the War Department a protest against its proceedings.
            Miss Mertia Calloway, 6229 Derby avenue, St. Louis, former City Infirmary matron, asked the First Lady to “see if you can induce the government to pay me.”
            “My 94-acre farm embraced in the TNT plant project is my whole patrimony and was inherited from my pioneer ancestor, F. H. Stewart. It was a sad experience to sell land that was the hunting ground and home neighborhood of my great-great-grandfathers, Daniel Boone and Capt. James Calloway.
            “Notwithstanding the sentiment I was willing to sell for promotion of national defense. The War Department has contracted to buy my land and I have delivered the deed. Nevertheless, the War Department refuses to pay the stipulated price and threatens condemnation. I work for my living when my health permits, but now I have no resources other than this property.”