Let’s swap the fort for another island
The town is currently considering its options on municipal-owned land at Ft. Wetherill. The former home of the town highway garage, the property includes a historic, but dilapidated, World War II-era building and 3.6 acres of land.
There are few proposals on the table. One idea is to sell the property, which in the current depressed economic environment would not command the prices that island real estate had in recent years.
The state Dept. of Environmental Management has expressed its interest in the property. The acquisition of the highway barn would allow DEM to expand its operation at Ft. Wetherill — possibly a good thing for Jamestown.
Since DEM would like to own the Ft. Wetherill town property, and the state is cash-poor at the moment, maybe an old-fashioned barter might be in order.
The DEM owns Dutch Island, our neighboring island to the west. Dutch Island is the site of an abandoned World War II military base. There are skeletons of several buildings and crumbling fortifications on the overgrown island. At the present, Dutch Island is off-limits to the public because of the old fortifications.
Jamestown could trade the Ft. Wetherill property for Dutch Island, with some concessions from the state to demolish the structures. Then, the town could turn the island into a municipal island park, complete with tent camping sites.
Dutch Island would make a great town park. People could paddle their kayaks to visit and in the summer months, the Dutch Island boatyard could offer ferry service with its boat launches. What a spot to bird-watch, hike and camp.
Yes, it would take some work and investment to transform Dutch Island into a town park. But think of the possibilities. We’ve got a real jewel in the rough right next door.
— Jeff McDonough