From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/16/1909, p. 10, c. 1

Council Committee, Yielding to Business Demand, Gives Original Site for Weather Bureau.
Alderman Richardson Will Carry Fight to Board – Batkin’s Change Saved It.

Despite the protest of Alderman Richardson that it would never be adopted by the Board of Alderman, the Committee on Grounds and Buildings last night recommended to Council, by a vote of 6 to 4, the grant to the United States government of a site for the Weather Bureau in Chimborazo Park, as selected by Chief Moore.

This decision was not reached without debate. Several votes were taken, the committee being deadlocked until Councilman Batkins changed his vote, after seeing that the East End congregation was not a unit in its opposition to the Moore site.

Says Board Will Kill It.

Although there was a large audience of interested citizens, the meeting was orderly, and but little was said in opposition to the Moore location – the knoll near the entrance of the park.

Mr. Richardson, who is not a member of the committee, opened the argument for the opposition, asking the committee to stop “dilly-dallying” with Chimborazo and select some other site and offer it to the government, assuring the committee that the park site would never be approved by the Board of Aldermen, and that any further discussion was only a loss of time. Although an opportunity was given for other speakers in opposition to the proposed location, no one asked to be heard, and Chairman Whittet called for remarks on the affirmative. Business Manager Dabney, of the Chamber of Commerce, introduced Vice-President Wood, of that body, who replied to Mr. Richardson, saying he believed the ordnance would pass the Board, since it was in line with progress, and the evident desire of the whole city save a few interested property owners. “The building must be placed in a park,” said Mr. Wood. It must be away from the environment of other buildings to avoid artificial climatic conditions. It would be a great misfortune to the city should it go elsewhere.

“The city of Birmingham, Ala., to which one of the stations was offered has not only donated a site, but has appropriated $4,000 to put that site in order.”

Must Not Pander to Few.

Dr. George E. Barksdale, a resident of the neighborhood of the park, spoke vigorously in favor of the location in Chimborazo, saying the whole neighborhood wanted the Weather Bureau established where the government wanted it, and that it would be most unwise to refuse on account of “an insignificantly few property owners.”

Councilman Powers, of Marshall Ward, objected strongly to this statement, but Dr. Barksdal went on with his remarks, urging the committee to come to terms for the benefit of the farmers, the fruit growers, the tobacco and produce dealers, who are dependent on the weather reports.

Mr. Dabney followed with an able review of the situation in some detail, urging the committee not to yield to the wishes of a few and give way to the clamor of a small minority against the wish of the whole people. Mr. Gwathmey, of the chamber committee, a resident of Church Hill, thought the building would not injure the park, and was replied to by Mr. Boyle, who thought Chief Moore was showing a “dictatorial spirit,” and that the city was not keeping faith in giving up a park to any building, closing, amid applause, with a reference to negro children attending the instructions of the weather director.

The question was called on motion to grant the site selected by Mr. Moore, and lost by a vote of 5 to 5, as follows: Ayes – Messrs. Buford, Don Leavy, Gunst, Melton and Tucker; noes – Messrs. Batkins, Powers, Satterfield, Selph and Whittet.

Batkins Changed His Vote.

A motion to substitute the site on the brow of the hill, already recommended to the Council, was then rejected 2 to 8, as follows: Ayes – Messrs. Batkins and Powers; noes – Messrs. Buford, Don Leavy, Gunst, Melton, Satterfield, Selph, Tucker and Whittet.

Claiming that the opponents of the Moore site had not stood by him in the fight to keep away from the knoll at the entrance of the park, Mr. Batkins announced his intention to change his vote, and the question was reconsidered, and the Moore site, originally selected, was recommended to the Council by a vote of 6 to 4, as follows: Ayes – Messrs. Batkins, Buford, Don Leavy, Gunst, Melton and Tucker; noes – Messrs. Powers, Satterfield, Selph and Whittet, the applause being stronger when the vote was announced than at any time during the meeting.

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