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Lawmakers: Keep Plum Island Open

The politicians said it does not make financial sense to close the facility and build a new one.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
Local lawmakers are not giving up their fight to stop the sale of the 59-year-old Plum Island Federal Animal and Disease Center and the construction of a new similar facility in Kansas — this week, they called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to keep the research facility open. 

Their words came in the form of a letter sent to Johnson, stating that there is no reason to close the Plum Island and spend tax dollars on a new facility. 
Legislation passed in 2008 mandates the public sale of Plum Island, with the proceeds meant to partially offset the $1.2 billion cost of the proposed National Bio-and-Agro Defense Facility in Kansas. 

“Relocating our country's disease research facility smack in the middle of tornado alley makes little sense” said Senator Chuck Schumer. “The facility should not be closed, the island should not be sold, and Long Island jobs should not be lost.”

“Closing the facility at Plum Island in favor of the research conducted there being relocated to Kansas is a plan that does not make fiscal sense,” said Congressman Bishop. 

And Senator Kristen Gillibrand added, "There is no reason to close Plum Island. The biological and agricultural research currently conducted here is a critical national asset that is essential to protect our nation’s agricultural resources and our security.” 

With Plum Island set to close in 2010 and sold prior to that date, Southold officials have taken steps to ensure their vision for the land as prospective buyers, including Donald Trump step forward. 

In Aug. 2013, the board adopted a re-use plan for the 840-acre Plum Island, which calls for a 125-acre Plum Island research district that would comprise 20 percent of the island. It also includes a 350-acre Plum Island conservation district, that would make up the remaining 80 percent, which would be a natural preserve.

The goal, Southold officials said is to create some kind of research facility that could possibly keep the 400 year-round jobs that currently exist on Plum Island in town.

This is not the first time that area lawmakers have called on the Federal government to leave Plum Island alone. Most recently, in September 2013, they asked the Obama administration to stop the sale of the island. 

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