Customs still has sights set on Blind Bay, opponents feel ignored

By Chad Charette, Channel 7 May 2, 2023

BLIND BAY, New York (WWNY) – Customs and Border Protection still has its sights set on Blind Bay for the location of a new facility. Meanwhile, local non-profits have concerns and say the feds are not listening to them.

Currently, the land along Blind Bay belongs to the Thousand Islands Land Trust.

“TILT has a long invested interest in the property itself and the larger Blind Bay area,” said Jake Tibbles, TILT executive director.

But TILT’s plans to keep Blind Bay pristine could fall through with Customs and Border Protection continuing to set its sights on the land for a new 50,000-square-foot facility, most recently calling for an environmental impact study in the area.

“Generally speaking, development along the shoreline is single-family residential homes. So this type of facility simply wouldn’t be compatible with existing shoreline development,” said Tibbles.

An alternative location for the facility has been proposed at the former Bonnie Castle Recreation Center, so far to no avail.

Jefferson County Legislator Phil Reed says he feels ignored.

“Most of my constituents feel somebody thousands of miles away are making decisions for us locally that have been here for generations,” he said.

Also opposed is Save the River. The organization’s main concern is environmental impacts.

“It will have an impact and I would prefer to see that site remain a natural site,” said Lauren Eggleston, assistant director, Save The River.

Since Blind Bay is shallow, Save The River officials say installing the facility would require extensive dredging, destroying the habitats of local wildlife.

“It would all be agitated and they wouldn’t have that shelter of that protected environment to spawn in,” said Eggleston.

After reaching out to Customs and Border Protection, we were told that it’s in the middle of a long planning process, and have yet to make a final decision on the facility’s location.

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