Tuesday, August 8, 2017

More Islands for Sale

No man is an island. But, for less than $175,000, a man (or woman) could buy three of them in the Potomac River — if he or she acts fast.

Real estate agent Buzz Mackintosh said the islands, about seven miles upstream of Williamsport, MD, have garnered interest from a handful of prospective buyers since going on the market earlier this year, but no one has taken the leap. Now, the state of Maryland, which already owns and manages several nearby islands, is weighing purchasing them.

This chain of islands is not particularly rare; there are nearly 100 islands of varying sizes in the Potomac River, more than three-quarters of them named. But few of those islands are privately owned, and rarely do they change hands or come up for sale.

That’s one of the reasons the islands’ owner, Peter Mertz, first snatched up this trio in 1986. Then a 27-year-old reporter for a Hagerstown, MD, television station, Mertz liked the idea of having his own island — or three — in the middle of the so-called Nation’s River.

“From my perspective, it was sort of a once-in-a-lifetime purchase,” said Mertz, who now lives in Colorado. “I used to go camping and do overnights on the islands. It was really serene and beautiful and unique, being on an island in the middle of a major river.”

Mertz, now 58, purchased the islands (for an amount he’d rather not disclose) from a pair of brothers who’d had the land since the midcentury. They said it was ideal for duck hunting, among other outdoor pastimes.

The islands are just below the river’s Dam Number 5. They are accessible only by boat from the Maryland or West Virginia sides of the river, though Mertz said an intrepid swimmer could navigate the calmer waters south of the dam to reach them.

Mackintosh said he had never listed an island before this property, but his older brother had listed one years ago near Poolesville, though it never sold. While owning an island comes with some inherent cachet, the owners of these would not be able to build any permanent structures on them because they are considered entirely in the flood zone. Only five of the islands’ total 108 acres are above the water most of the time.
These are closer to our price range, but I kind of liked the idea of goats.

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