Plum Island Plans Up For Decision, Possible ‘Mega Donor’ Aboard

Plum Island landscape 2017 by Jane Ahrens

“What we don’t want to see happen is no one showing interest and this going back on the auction block again.”

By Lisa Finn, Patch Staff
Fri, Feb 11, 2022

NORTH FORK, NY — The time is now to start thinking about Plum Island’s next chapter.

So said longtime advocates to preserve Plum Island, discussing the issue at a virtual environmental roundtable organized by New York State Senator Anthony Palumbo, New York State Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio, and New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Thursday.

During the discussion, Thiele asked about the status of Plum Island. In 2020, after a fierce battle that spanned years, environmentalists and elected officials rejoiced as they announced that Plum Island would no longer be sold on the auction block.

Mark Woolley, district director for Rep. Lee Zeldin, said he last visited Plum Island late last year. The Department of Homeland Security, he said, is preparing to shut down operations at the facility by 2028 at a closure cost of $150 million.

The DHS will cease operations at the site and move those operations to Manhattan, Kansas; that operation will be called the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

Speaking about Plum Island’s future, Louise Harrison, New York natural areas coordinator for Save the Sound, said since the legislation to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder in 2020 was repealed, it put the transfer of the parcel back into the jurisdiction of DHS. The plan is to go through the General Services Administration to offer Plum Island to federal agencies first.

However, she cautioned, that process moves quickly — and is set to begin as early as March.

The process, as mandated by law, gives federal agencies 30 days to decide if they are interested in becoming the recipient of Plum Island.

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