ALEXANDRIA BAY — U.S. Customs and Border Protection, along with the U.S. General Services Administration, formally opened a new processing facility at the Alexandria Bay Port of Entry on Thursday morning.

The 10,427-square-foot commercial warehouse includes a large commercial inspection warehouse with eight cargo bays, a parking garage, a veterinary services facility and a non-intrusive inspection facility. The project also added covered parking spaces for staff and visitors.

Rose Brophy, director of CBP’s Buffalo Field Office, said the facility is a much-needed replacement to a nearly 100-year-old structure. The original commercial facility was built in the 1930s, she said.

“... those who worked in (the old facility) know that since then (CBP’s) mission has evolved, and it’s critical that our facilities support our mission,” she said.

The regional administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration’s Northeast and Caribbean regions, John A. Sarcone, said the project was the GSA’s largest in the Northeast this year, and the facility has become a state-of-the-art model for other CBP facilities along the northern border. He said construction was minimally hampered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“That the work on this project safely continued without interruption during COVID-19 is a testament to the entire project team,” he said.

He added that the project was a “vital” source of local employment for the construction industry during the pandemic, “at a time when the area economy needed it most,” he said.

The facility is already in operation, and Alexandria Bay Port of Entry Director Tim Walker said his team has already benefited from the expanded capabilities the new facility provides.

On Oct. 2, CBP officers in Alexandria Bay seized more than $150,000 worth of glass bongs, or smoking pipes, being shipped from Canada to the U.S. through the Thousand Islands region.

The project is part of a multi-phase renovation project, totaling $215 million. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said she worked alongside her colleagues in Washington, D.C., to secure the funding through the 2016 and 2018 federal appropriations bills.

“Alongside this critical investment in modernizing our Port of Entry infrastructure, it is essential that Congress also invest in the men and women who come to work every day on America’s frontline to keep our communities safe,” she said.

The next phase of renovation and modernization projects will focus on the port’s main administration building and passenger vehicle processing facilities.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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