Published by the Watertown Daily Times on Feb 25, 2022
FISHERS LANDING — The period for the public to offer comment on proposed construction of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection station will continue through March 10.
CBP is inviting public comment on both the Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Finding of No Significant Impact addressing the potential effects, beneficial and adverse, from the proposed construction of the station on an 18.9-acre site along the St. Lawrence River waterfront in the town of Orleans. The location would be along Route 12 up to the river shoreline on Blind Bay.
The proposed station would provide space for 75 Border Patrol agents in a 17,300-square-foot main administrative building, with another 15,800 square feet of “support space.” There would be a 15,100-square-foot parking garage for 33 vehicles, as well as a canine kennel, storage for 12 ATVs or snowmobiles, marine storage for 4 boats, a 30- to 40-foot dock and ramp, enclosed vehicle wash station, fuel island, communication tower and backup generator, all behind a perimeter fence.
The new station is considered a need by the Department of Homeland Security because the Wellesley Island Border Patrol Station has outlived its usefulness. The environmental review states that the island station is operating at three times its designed capacity, isn’t appropriately located to uniformly protect regional borders and has become structurally unsound.
The proposal is meeting resistance, including from the Clayton-based environmental group Save the River, which among other things contends that Blind Bay is one of the most prolific muskellunge, or muskie, spawning areas in the entire St. Lawrence River basin, spawning which could be disrupted by an increase in boat traffic created if the CBP station is located there.
A 30-day public comment period, which began Feb. 9, continues through March 10. Comments must be received by that date to be included in the Final Environmental Assessment.
The Draft EA and FONSI can be downloaded from the CBP website at wdt.me/aDaaHX.
Comments can be submitted by mail to John Petrilla, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 24000 Avila Road, Suite 5020, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677, or by email at BPAMNEPA@cbp.dhs.gov.