AN EVIL LEGACY.
HOW not to do it seems to have been the principle on which the department of pnblic works of this city acted up to the time when Gen. Collis was appoiuted as its head. The recent exposure of the unsewered condition of parts of Fifth avenue and the difficulties experienced by Gen. Collis in locating the position of what sewer, water and gas connections and pipes there were, owing to lack of maps and plans, has already been shown. And now comes further testimony to the same effect, not only as to Fifth avenue but to other important traffic arteries in New York. Investigation has shown that there are miles and miles of the older streets which contain sewers, water pipes, gas pipes, vaults and subways for steam and other purposes, the location or very existence of which pipes is unknown officially to the public works department. Such a state of things was developed when the Third Avenue railroad put in its cable conduit after the work had got down to Sixth street, and the most experienced contractor in the city refused to make a price in building that part of the road except upon the basis of charging the company a fixed price upon the material for the track and conduit and the actual cost of putting this in, whatever it might be, plus a ten per cent profit. It was impossible to find out from any records what pipes or other obstacles might be encountered between Sixth street and the post office, and this short stretch of road cost as rnueh to construct as did the whole section from Sixth street to 129th street. The owners of the Broadway railroad found exactly the same difficulties when that road adopted cable traction, and Mr. William Barclay Parsons, chief engineer of the Rapid Transit Railroad Commission, has spent tens of thousands of dollars in finding out just what there was beneath the streets on the various routes through which that commission has proposed to build its underground road. Gen. Collis considers that the heads of the various bureaus in his department, who had their places under a strong tenure of office law. should be held responsible, each one, for the work of his bureau, and should have accurate maps of sewers, water pipes, etc., whether built or laid by the department or by private parties (of course, with a permit from the department). It maybe stated that all water mains are laid under the direct order of the chief engineer; in other respects, however, a happy-go-lucky method, (or rather want of method), and work has been done often without the issuance of any permit, certainly withoutsuch permits being registered. Had such been the case the information conveyed by each permit would have enabled the chief engineer’s bureau to prepare maps showing the exact location of every pipe and subway, while, had the engineers in charge of the laying of water pipes and building of sewers done their duty, they would have drawn contour maps showing where rock or quicksand was to be met with. There are no such maps; hence the delay that has caused the virtual blocking up of Fifth avenue for so many months by putting in sewers and sewer connections, which ought to have been built years ago. Everything was done at haphazard, unsystematically, and as deemed best in the eyes of the doer. As a result, Gen. Collis is constantly finding out that there are parts of streets unsewered, which should have been sewered generations ago. One sample out of many similar cases, is the block between Thirty – first and Thirty-second streets, where there was no sewer. And yet that part of the city was built upseveny years ago!
During the recent fire at Deering, Me., the fire department of Portland was called on for help. Two companies went over, only, as they complain, to be insulted by the Deering firemen, whose side of the story, however, is still to be heard.