Representatives of real estate mogul Donald Trump have been speaking with town and federal officials about the possibility of purchasing Plum Island and building a golf course there, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell confirmed Tuesday evening.
Mr. Russell, who said he spoke with Trump representatives earlier Tuesday, has his reservations that such a plan could move forward, considering that new zoning would prevent any significant commercial development on the 843-acre island.
“Unless he wants to get into the business of conservation or education I don’t think what [Mr. Trump] has in mind would be consistent with our zoning,” Mr. Russell said. “We did not include any resort development and getting a use variance grant would be very difficult.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump told the Associated Press that he hadn’t decided what he’d do with the land should he purchase the island.
“We would do something, but it would not be on a big scale,” Mr. Trump told the AP. “We would look at it and come up with something appropriate.”
The General Service Administration, which is overseeing the sale of the island, suggested in its final environmental study that 500 homes could be built on the island. The federal government is hoping to close the research laboratory and use the profits from the island’s sale to cover the cost of constructing a new $1.1 billion animal disease research laboratory in Manhattan, Kan.
The GSA said there is no estimate of what Plum Island could fetch at auction, but said the sale was at least five years away.
On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo joined a growing number of elected leaders who have taken issue with the sale of the island.
He is calling on the federal government to require a comprehensive environmental cleanup plan for Plum Island and to give the state final review of the Island’s conditions before it is put up for sale.
During a press conference at Orient Beach State Park, the governor said the Department of Homeland Security and General Services Administration have dismissed environmental concerns raised by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in its recently issued Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision.
In 2010, the DEC identified a number of concerns related to landfills, buildings and other areas on the site and possible contamination of groundwater.
Subsequent DEC site inspections revealed that the lab failed to properly manage and dispose of its solid waste and adhere to appropriate quality control and testing procedures for laboratory waste, Mr. Cuomo said.
In a letter dated Friday addressed to the DHS and GSA, Mr. Cuomo demanded that the federal government conduct a full investigation on possible contamination issues that could potentially cause health, environmental and economic risks.
“Over the past three years, New York State has raised the issue of potentially serious environmental issues at the federal government’s Animal Disease Center on Plum Island that have not been fully addressed,” the governor said in a statement. “Before the sale of Plum Island can continue, Washington must step up and sign a legally binding consent order spelling out its full plan for cleaning up the Island and giving the State oversight authority to make sure the work has been done properly.”
Other elected leaders have also taken issue with the sale.
In July, Congressman Tim Bishop (D- Southampton) introduced “Save, don’t sell Plum Island,” a bill designed to overturn the 2008 congressional mandate for the federal government to sell the island.
Mr. Bishop spoke with a representative from the Trump organization Friday regarding its potential interest in purchasing the island and using the previously developed portion of it, according to Bishop spokesman Oliver Longwell.
Trump representatives said they would provide more details on their proposal but have yet to do so, Mr. Longwell said.
Mr. Trump, who’s known for his luxury hotels and casinos, has developed more than a dozen luxury golf courses throughout North America and Europe, according to trumpgolf.com. Three of those courses are located in New York, but none on Long Island.
In 2000, Mr. Trump offered Riverhead Town $35 million for the former Grumman site, where he said he hoped to build houses, but the town’s zoning for the site prohibited residential development.
Mr. Trump has attempted to purchase the former Grumman site at least three times with no success, even proposing to build a NASCAR racetrack there in 1997.