By Time staff report, NNY360, January 9, 2024
FISHERS LANDING — U.S. Customs and Border Protection acknowledged Tuesday that it is considering a location in Clayton as an alternative to a site on Blind Bay for a proposed new 49,000-square-foot Border Patrol station.
However, the Blind Bay location in the town of Orleans remains in play, with CBP saying in a statement that it will be conducting a draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment of the site to supplement a draft Environmental Assessment prepared in February 2022.
Rep. Claudia L. Tenney, R-Cleveland, had announced in August that CBP officials were considering locations in addition to Blind Bay, which has faced strong opposition from environmental groups, local elected officials and others due to the environmentally sensitive nature of the St. Lawrence River bay that hosts a variety of native species and is one of only a few remaining muskellunge spawning sites on the river’s southern shore.
CBP had not publicly identified alternative locations it may have been considering for its station to replace its Wellesley Island facility, but neighbors in the area of Heaslip Lane and Hayes Road in the town of Clayton had said they had observed surveyors in the area behind Dockside Cottages on Route 12.
In light of the opposition, the town of Alexandria has offered the town-owned Bonnie Castle Stables on Route 12 as an alternative, although that site lacks waterfront access. The town proposes CBP could launch boats at the nearby Keewaydin State Park.
On Tuesday, CBP said in a statement that it continues to look at alternatives to the Blind Bay, but that it “requires the property abuts to the St. Lawrence River for mission readiness and adequate response times,” which the 19-acre parcel in Clayton would offer.
Based on this, CBP said that it has completed environmental resource and due diligence surveys at that location and will include the results of the surveys and an evaluation of the site in the draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment being prepared for the 20-acre Blind Bay site.
The draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment for Blind Bay will include additional environmental surveys to address questions and concerns raised in public comments for the draft Environmental Assessment, according to CBP. The agency said in its statement that “real estate access restrictions” at the proposed location have delayed completion of the necessary species-specific surveys until spring.
The data from additional surveys is needed to complete a thorough and accurate analysis of the potential environmental effects of the proposed project, CBP said.
Public scoping for the draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment will be conducted by CBP in the coming months. CBP said that at that time, interested or affected parties will have the opportunity to provide information to the agency pertaining to proposed and/or alternative locations, as well as suggest other locations that CBP has not yet considered.
Alternative locations meeting CBP requirements for the proposed project may be identified by CBP or interested parties during the draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment scoping process, CBP said. These locations may be surveyed and evaluated in the draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment.
Lastly, CBP said that it will notify the public of the availability of the draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment and provide an opportunity for review and comment. It is expected that CBP will release the draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment in 2024.
Additional information regarding the project and a copy of the draft Environmental Assessment are available on the CBP website at https://www.cbp.gov/about/environmental-management.