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Guest Contributors...                            James G. Bailey

Finally, in 1985 "For Sale" signs went up around the island and a city realtor was listing it--"$150,000, would subdivide." Over the following winter a second plaque disappeared from the monument.  Subsequent publicity about the island resulted in the voluntary relinquishing of the "souvenir" at a downstate home, and it is now in the custody of the Clinton County Historical Association.
   In the spring of 1986 people, including the writer, met and formed an Ad Hoc Committee for a Public Crab Island.  Dr. James Dawson, then president of C. C. H. A., and the writer were co-chairmen.  Members represented such groups as American Legion, V. F. W., Champlain Islands Trust, C. C. H. A., and Lake Champlain Committee, as well as area municipal officials and other concerned citizens.
   The committee discussed court action against G. S. A. to void the 1967 sale, but decided it would be more expedient to persuade New York State to purchase at the asking price.  The office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation was the most appropriate state agency because of its charter to procure and protect historic sites.  Initially, 0. P. R. H. P. declined involvement.  The Ad Hoc Committee made contact with governments and organizations throughout the Champlain Valley, asking them to adopt resolutions urging state purchase.  Under this kind of pressure, 0. P. R. H. P. began to react favorably.
   Commissioner Lehman, who came up to Clinton County in June formally to open Point Au Roche State Park, was given a boat ride around Crab Island by committee members.  By midsummer, state appraisals had been made and money set aside, from the 1972 Environmental Bond Act, for the purchase.
   But in late summer, Walter ("Roger") Jakubowski of Ventnor, N. J. entered the picture. Jakubowski, who had made his fortune on the Alantic City boardwalks, was remembered as the purchaser of the former Post estate, Topridge, near Paul Smiths.  He raised the offering price beyond what the appraisals would, by law, allow the state to pay.  Mr. Troise, despite his 1975 vows that the historic aspects would be properly recognized, turned down the 0. P. R. H. P. offer--reputedly well above the asking price--in favor of Mr. Jakubowski's $190,000 bid.
   News of "the second Battle of Plattsburgh Bay" had been spreading around the state and

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beyond.  Articles appeared in the New York Times and in Boston papers.  Historians across the state wrote 0. P. R. H. P. and the governor.  N. B. C. considered sending a television crew to Plattsburgh, such was the media appeal of this story.  So, the state entered negotiations with Jakubowski for its purchase.
   At about the time of the September 1986 sale by Troise, the town of Plattsburgh took a crucial step.  To close a loophole in its master plan-when adopted in the early 1960s the plan excluded all federal lands--the town board voted protective zoning regulations for Crab Island commensurate with its historic significance.  Essentially, this ruled out extensive subdivision, the most lucrative possibility.
   Reporters and state negotiators were unable to discover from Mr. Jakubowski exactly what his plans were for the historic site, although many rumors abounded.  More petitions for state acquisition were collected at Veterans' Day that November. 0. P. R. H. P. continued negotiations off and on through fall and winter 1986-87, rumored to include discussion of exchange of state land near Camp Topridge.  But no agreement could be reached.
   With the call for public stewardship of the sailors' graves remaining strong, the state began to mention the use of eminent domain, a forced sale at fair market price.  A public hearing was scheduled for July 29, 1987 in Plattsburgh to allow comment on the issue.  The turnout was large and overwhelmingly in favor of state ownership.  It was not unanimous: Mr. Jakubowski was one of the speakers.
   There is a reluctance of governments to invoke eminent domain, which explains the year-long hiatus after Troise's sale.  The issue swinging public opinion in this case was the feeling that the federal government had bungled badly in allowing the veterans' graveyard to be classed as unwanted, surplus property.
   With public opinion on record, the state moved to acquire by eminent domain.  Once again, private appraisers were called in to suggest the fair market value.  At 11 a.m. on Jan. 11, 1988--174 1/3 years to the hour from Macdonough's victory--papers for state ownership of Crab Island were filed in the County Clerk's office.  The court-set price was $210,000, which afforded Mr. Jakubowski a $20,000 profit.

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Other Crab Island related links on America's Historic Lakes:

The Secrets of Crab Island by James P. Millard

The Battle of Plattsburgh- The War of 1812 on Lake Champlain

Dr. James Mann's account of the Battle of Plattsburgh

Return of killed and wounded on board the United States squadron on Lake Champlain, in the engagement with the British fleet, on the 11th of September, 1814 - official listing of American losses from the naval engagement.

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