assigns, to continue to occupy said parcel for a period of five (5) years from the date of the filing of the Declaration of Taking;
'(b) The right of the owners of other parcels as herein described, their lessees, successors, and assigns to continue to use and occupy said parcels for such periods of time and under such terms and conditions as may hereafter be stipulated between the parties'.
On April 4, 1951, an answer to the petition in condemnation was filed by the trustees of the estate to which title to the Merchants' Exchange belonged prior to March 1, 1951. The substance of certain paragraphs, or portions thereof, of the answer, which the Government has moved to strike, is that the United States is not presently entitled to obtain title to the property in question by condemnation proceedings because it will not put the property to a public use until a period of five years or more from the date of taking has elapsed.
It has long been settled that the United States, through its power of eminent domain, has the right to acquire by condemnation sites or buildings of national historical significance for the purpose of preserving them in order to commemorate and illustrate the nation's history. United States v. Gettysburg Electric Railway Company, 1896, 160 U.S. 668, 680-683, 16 S. Ct. 427, 40 L. Ed. 576; Barnidge v. United States, 8 Cir., 1939, 101 F.2d 295, 298-299. Therefore there can be no question at this late date that the government may condemn the property described in the Independence National Historical Park Act in order to 'provide a permanent memorial to the principles on which our country is founded.'
The trustees of the estate impliedly admit all this. However they claim that the government should not condemn the Merchants' Exchange property until it is ready to establish the park, or a reasonable short time before then. We cannot agree. From the terms of the Act, it seems to us, that a program of piecemeal acquisition of the land, by donation or purchase, extending over a period of time was intended by Congress; mass eviction during a time when there is a shortage of, and a great demand for, housing units and business establishments in this metropolitan section was certainly not contemplated. Permitting the former owners or their lessees to remain in possession of the properties within the proposed park until the government was ready to take possession is, we think, in harmony with the policy envisioned by the Act. In view of the situation, both here and abroad, and in the absence of any allegation and proof of bad faith on the part of the government officials, the waiting of a period of five years until the property will be put to the use cited in the Act is not unreasonable, and will not defeat the government's right to condemn the property on March 1, 1951. See United States v. 6,576.27 Acres of Land, etc., S.W.D. of N.D. 1948, 77 F.Supp. 244.
Moreover since the government intends to preserve and restore the Merchants' Exchange Building and make it a part of the park project, obtaining title and control over that property at an early date by the proper government agency for the purpose of preventing further deterioration, changes or alterations, and reducing the risks of its impairment or destruction by fire or storm is reason enough.
Another reason suggested by the government for its early acquisition of the property is question is that it desires to prevent speculation in the properties within the area of the proposed park. Whether this reason, standing alone, may be a sufficient ground for condemning the Merchants' Exchange property on March 1, 1951, we need not decide. However as an additional factor it does not detract from the government's right to obtain immediate title and control of that property on that date. For as stated in United States ex rel. T.V.A. v. Welch, 1946, 327 U.S. 546,at page 554, 66 S. Ct. 715, 719, 90 L. Ed. 843: 'The cost of public projects is a relevant element in all of them, and the government, just as anyone else, is not required to proceed oblivious to elements of cost. Cf. Old Dominion Land Co. v. United States (269 U.S. 55, 46 S. Ct. 39, 70 L. Ed. 162). And when serious problems are created by its public projects, the Government is not barred from making a common sense adjustment in the interest of all the public. Brown v. United States, 263 U.S. 78, 44 S. Ct. 92, 68 L. Ed. 171'.
The fact that the beneficial interest in the property was divided between a life tenant and a remainderman cannot create any obstacle or deterrent to the government's right to obtain title by condemnation proceedings. It only creates a problem when the time for the distribution of the proceeds arrives. See United States v. 380 Acres of Land, D.C.Ky. 1942, 47 F.Supp. 6.
Accordingly, the government's motion to strike certain paragraphs, or portions thereof, of the trustees' answer will be allowed.