Rat Island, a 2 ½ acre rock off the shores of City Island in New York City sold for $160,000 recently to Alex Schibli of City Island, New York, without, of all things, any rats. Mr. Schibli, who outbid a nonprofit, a family that wanted to purchase the island and rename it after a relative, and a fisherman, wants to conserve his “private island” and possibly rename it ‘Malina Island’, after his 4-year-old granddaughter.
A story like this grabs your attention because at first glance you think, “who would want to buy an island called Rat Island?” Well, you’re not alone. It turns out there are no rats on the island and the Schibli’s have been maintaining the island for years while visiting during their many kayak outings.
Now it’s not entirely lost on me that Alex Schibli purchased a parcel of land in New York City that is not only free of rats, a claim not readily supported by many parts of the big apple, but also begs the question, how did Rat Island get that name? According to legend, the island was home to 19th century victims of typhoid and once also had a cottage on it. Mr. Schibli held a long standing interest in Rat Island that led to his eventual ownership and his subsequent proclamation that his plans do not include developing the island.
It’s also worth noting that Mr.Schibli worked hard to maintain the visual appeal of the island by performing an important function of rodent control; by cleaning up the island and removing trash and debris, Mr. Schibli also ensured that Rat Island remained free of the namesake pests. The undeniable clout of “island ownership” shouldn’t be sullied by a misnomer after all. With the clean-up efforts employed, perhaps Malina Island, or whatever name the Schibli’s choose, will be known for natural beauty rather than a place named after a furry rodent no one wants around.