CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — First, Blind Bay. Now, Dockside Cottages.
Customs and Border Protection is now considering the parcel, 0309 Route 12 in Clayton, New York for a 48,000-square-foot border patrol facility. This is the current location of Dockside Cottages, located on the St. Lawrence River.
The first proposed site for this facility was at Blind Bay in the Town of Orleans. This proposal created controversy in the surrounding community due to the Bay’s environmental importance.
However, news of the second site hit the Clayton community in mid-September after members of the neighborhood saw workers surveying the site.
Dede Nash neighbors the Dockside Cottages properties. Her house has been in her family for generations and she said the concept of the facility has her losing sleep.
“We’re all against it, heartbroken,” Nash said. “I thought we were going to age in place here and [the facility] would just totally uproot everything.”
Now, Clayton is terrified. A public meeting was held on October 25 where dozens of community members voiced their opposition to the facility.
This parcel of land is surrounded by approximately 35 residential homes. It’s also zoned as marine residential and has over 100 feet of shoreline.
Dede’s son, Jay, has helped rally groups to write letters to local lawmakers.
“Obviously installing a facility of this scope and size would massively impact their quality of life, property values, et cetera.
However, the community believes there is a solution. Groups and lawmakers have all urged CBP to consider the former Bonnie Castle Recreational Center on Route 12.
This site has been backed by Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, State Senator Mark Walczyk, Assemblyman Scott Gray and local elected officials.
Many believe that building the Border Patrol facility at this site would be a positive development.
“It would be the cornerstone to jump-start this development here,” Bobby Cantwell, District 1 Jefferson County Legislator said. “Sewer and infrastructure could all be put up here.”
Environmental groups Save The River and Thousand Islands Land Trust have also supported Bonnie Castle for the site. They said it would have no environmental risks.
“You would have a new industrial, or architecturally pleasing style facility here that would be part of the gateway into New York State or Canada,” Save The River Executive Director John Peach added.
Although Peach is unsure Blind Bay is completely off the table, all agree that conversations with CBP need to happen in person.
“Dockside Cottages and Blind Bay, anything along the St. Lawrence River is not the right site for this commercial facility,” Cantwell expressed.
In response to this new site, Customs and Border Protection issued the following statement:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) remains looking into feasible properties around the region for a station relocation, but the process is long and any planning is being done without any decisions made as of yet. However, the current Wellesley Island station remains Border Patrol’s sole operational facility in the area.
Mike Niezgoda, Spokesman, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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