Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Surveyors' Plea

In the summer of 1948, New Orleans surveyor Guy Seghers entered a plea (and endorsement) to the city:

"There has never been a complete survey of this city nor has this vast area a single legal monument; thus the differences in opinion among surveyors as to street lines. The basis of all surveys consists of maps compiled prior to the War Between the States. Present-day precise instruments disclose shortages or surpluses over these old maps as well as angular differences.

Surveying requires considerable knowledge of mathematics, city and state laws and ordinances, local custom and history, plus an abundance of horse sense.

Surveying, like other professions and trades, often differs in opinion and procedure, but there exist surveyors whose knowledge of their business is tops, and who are called upon by courts and corporations as experts, in untangling the mess caused by the inexpert 'tape-man.'

The trouble the reputable surveyor finds is that an owner will agree to pay for title examination, notarial acts, title insurance, real estate costs, etc., but generally tries to avoid paying for the smallest fee of them all for the most important item--a survey. Owners will grudgingly shop like a housewife buying a can of peas, and when the owner gets what he pays for he squawks.

The solution of this problem is not a question of making bond, but of a good city survey, well monumented, thus eliminating all differences that will continuously arise with conditions as they are.

In the meantime, if I were in need of a surgical operation, I would not shop around for the doctor quoting the lowest fee, but go to a well-established specialist."

Guy J. Seghers, Letter to the Editor, The Times Picayune (June 2 1948): p. 12.

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