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Why Not Buy Plum Island? After All, Foot-and-Mouth is Harmless to Humans

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As long as you don't have cloven hoofs (sorry, Donald Trump!), you're perfectly safe on Plum Island. The story up till now: back in 1659, the island was purchased by Samuel Willis III, son of the governor of Connecticut, from Chief Wyandanch of the Montauketts, for a coat, a barrel of biscuits and 100 fishhooks. (Hey, who can put a price on fishhooks?) Various families owned the island until 1899, when the United States government purchased it for $90,000 and used it as a military base. In 1954 someone had the bright idea to use the island as an animal disease research facility. In September 2008, Congress passed a law to close the research facility, sell the island, and build a new facility in Manhattan, Kansas; today's technology means that animal diseases can be safely researched on the mainland.

While party-pooper conservationists want Plum Island preserved in its relatively pristine state, we say pshaw. Wouldn't it be great to have your own island, rich folks? You could stick it in the eye of those snooty Gardiners and their island, too! (Gardiners Island is bigger, admittedly.) Here's what the General Service Administration has to say:

Containing approximately 840 acres, the island boasts sandy shoreline, beautiful views and a harbor strategically situated to provide easy access from the Orient Point facility or elsewhere. Architectural highlights include a lighthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Place built in 1869 along with buildings and battery stations constructed as part of Fort Terry, a military fort actively used during the buildup to the Spanish-American War and during World War I and World War II. Most of the other buildings and infrastructure on the island are of more modern design and development. Of particular note is a well-maintained 55,000 square foot glass and concrete administration building constructed in 1994. In addition to over 4 miles of existing paved roadway and 8 miles of gravel roadway, the island offers strength in its utility connections and capacity. Undersea cables transmit power and communications capability from Long Island to Plum Island, while an on-site power plant provides emergency back-up support. In addition to the foregoing, the island contains its own wastewater decontamination plant and extensive well water supply and distribution facilities. Though we must sadly admit that the 840 acres will probably cost more than a coat, a barrel of biscuits and 100 fishhooks.
· Sale of Plum Island, New York [GSA]