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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.