Owner of NYC's Rat Island Plans to Leave It a Barren Rock

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You'd think that if you owned your own private island, you'd be clamoring to turn it into your personal oasis.

Not Alex Schibli, the retired Port Authority worker who snapped up New York City's Rat Island (pictured above) for $176,000 at auction last year. Even though the 2.5-acre rock at the northwestern end of Long Island Sound is zoned for residential use, his immediate plan is to leave it as is: barren.

"I'm not really planning anything different for the island," Schibli, 72, tells the New York Post.

All he's done to the place is add an American flag and two "private property" signs, the Post reports.

He does, however, want to change one thing: the island's name.

According to folklore, Rat Island got its name in the 1800s when prisoners -- or "rats" -- would use the island to hide out after escaping from a jail on nearby Hart Island. But it was originally known as Rattle Island in the 1600s, when locals would use rattles to warn boaters of the island's location.

Schibli apparently prefers the original name.

Other than that, he just wants his slab of rock to be a place where he and his family can have fun together.

"I love swimming, canoeing and collecting mussels -- and we're going to have lots of fun with my family [on the island]," Schibli tells the Post. "There'll be picnics, barbecues and the occasional party, but, more than anything, we're just going to relax."

Schibli is considering building a vacation home on the island in the future -- one that would be solar-powered. But that's a long way off.

There was once a home on Rat Island, but it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938. The stone foundation of that home remains on the island today.

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