Outlook Brighter For Retention Of Station By Roland Alston
Gannett National Service
Washington - The outlook for continuance of the $70,000,000 U.S. Naval Training Center at Sampson, N.Y., brightened considerably yesterday.
A Navy spokesman told Gannett National Service that the Navy will ask the Senate Appropriations Committee to restore the $3,500,000 cut in the station's operating funds for fiscal 1946. This cut was initiated by the House Naval Appropriations Subcommittee with a view to discontinuing the station by Sept. 30 for economy.
Mead Offers Help
Almost simultaneously, Senator James M. Mead (D.,N.Y.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, let it be known that he is willing to carry the ball for those who want the station continued.
The Senate committee is expected to begin hearings on the Navy appropriation measure about next Thursday. Mead, who has been ill, sent a telegram to the Senate subcommittee, headed by Senator John H. Overton (D., La.) stating he was interested in seeing the cut restored.
The House bill, reducing the Sampson's appropriation to only $1,000,000 was sprung suddenly last week before Upstate New Yorkers were aware of what was afoot. A few days later the $24,879,510,546 measure was whisked through the House, over the objections of Chairman Carl Vinson (D.,Ga) of the Naval Affairs Committee and Representative W. Sterling Cole (R., N.Y.) high-ranking member of the committee.
The record of hearings on the bill, conducted in closed session indicates Navy witnesses were reluctant to go along with the proposal of the House Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, Representative Harry R. Sheppard (D., Calif.) but had to accept because they were taken by surprise and were unprepared to make a good case against the proposed closing.
Hard Fight Looms
Even if Mead and the Navy witnesses succeed in convincing the Senate subcommittee the cut should be restored, the station's backers will be in for a hard fight. The appropriation bill may be sent to a House-Senate conference to iron out any differences in the House and Senate versions. Sheppard is almost certain to be appointed one of the House conferees
Sheppard stated flatly during the House committee hearings he thought the Sampson installation should be closed because it no longer was needed. Sheppard said the subcommittee had to choose between folding the other temporary station, at Port Deposit, Md., or the Sampson station. He said it would be advisable to continue the Maryland station because weather conditions were more suitable for training there..
One plan the Navy has under consideration is to use the Sampson station as a rehabilitation and discharge station for Navy personnel.
The U.S. Veterans Administration meanwhile has been making a study of how the station might be used as a veterans hospital, as proposed by representative John Taber (R., N.Y.) ranking minority member of the House Appropriations Committee.
The administration plans to send a representative from the U. S. Veterans Hospital at Canandaigua, N.Y., to look over the Sampson layout and make a report.