Private Island

March 18th, 2014 BY Heather Utendorf | 1 Comment

How does a private island with distant views of the Manhattan skyline sound to you? If you’re a snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons it should sound like a sanctuary because that’s precisely what it is. The last remaining private island that’s part of New York City was given to the city in early November to become protected ground for the nesting birds.

“It has stunning views; it is very idyllic,” said John Calvelli, senior vice president for the Wildlife Conservation Society. The island’s overgrown trees, vines and various bird species make it “one of the last wild places left in New York,” he said.
In the unusual 2 million dollar deal, the land is virtually useless for real estate developers because it’s only available by boat. If it wasn’t given to the city for natural use, it most likely would have been turned into some kind of industrial facility or perhaps a prison.

This island was settled nearly 4 centuries ago by Dutch immigrants and held in private hands ever since. Now it will be maintained and preserved by New York City’s Parks Department.

“How often do you buy an island and give it to the city in the same day?” said Rep. Jose Serrano, who helped broker the deal between its former owner, Hampton Scows Inc., and the Trust for Public Land, which bought the island with money from the federal government and turned it over to the city. The company, a NY based gravel and sand company, brought the island in the 1970’s for a whooping $10. Prior to being sold to Hampton Stow, the island was owned by a beer baron and former New York Yankees baseball team owner Col. Jacob Ruppert. He built a house on the island that later burned down and the island has been buildingless since.

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