To the Senate:
I return without approval Senate bill No. 1870, entitled "An act granting the use of certain lands in Pierce County, Washington Territory, to the city of Tacoma, for the purpose of a public park."
It is proposed by this bill to permit the appropriation for a public park of a certain military reservation containing 635 acres, which was set apart for military and defensive purposes the 22d day of September, 1866.
The establishment of this reservation was strongly recommended by high military authority, and its preservation and maintenance have since that time been also urged by the same authority.
At this time, when the subject of national defense is much discussed, I can not account for the apparent willingness to grant, or permit to be used for other purposes, Government lands reserved for military uses.
I judge from an expression in the letter of the Chief of Engineers, made a part of the report of the committee of the House to which this bill was referred, that its original purpose was to absolutely transfer this reservation to the city of Tacoma. The Chief of Engineers suggested an amendment to the bill providing that the mere permission to use this land for a park should be granted, "and that this permission be given with the full understanding that the United States intends to occupy the lands or any part of them for military or other purposes whenever its proper officials see fit to order the same, and without any claim for compensation or damage on the part of said city of Tacoma."
Instead of adopting the recommendation of the Chief of Engineers the provision of the bill limiting the extent of the use of this land declares--
That the United States reserves to itself the fee and the right forever to resume possession and occupy any portion of said lands for naval or military purposes whenever in the judgment of the President the exigency arises that should require the use and appropriation of the same for the public defense or for such other disposition as Congress may determine, without any claim for compensation to said city for improvements thereon or damages on account thereof.
The expediency of granting any right to the occupancy of this land is, in my opinion, very doubtful. If it is done, it should be in the form of a mere license, revocable at any time, for the purposes used by the officers to which its use and disposition are now subject.
It seems to me that if any use of this land is given to the city of Tacoma it should be with the proviso suggested by the Chief of Engineers, instead of the indefinite and restricted one incorporated in the bill.
Grover Cleveland, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/205088