Land trust to buy Blind Bay parcel to block proposed CBP facility

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 7:32 AM EDT
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FISHERS LANDING, New York (WWNY) - How do you stop a federal agency from building on a spot you consider environmentally sensitive?

You buy the land.

The Thousand Islands Land Trust announced Wednesday it reached an agreement with Blind Bay Associates to buy the property the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was eyeing for a new 48,000-square-foot facility.

“We were very concerned about the facility, the size of the facility, the traffic that would be generated, but the fencing which would impact migration of mammals and other wildlife,” said TILT executive director Jake Tibbles.

He wouldn’t disclose how much the group invested, but we were told it was partially funded using state money.

“We will likely have to do some private funding in order to come up to the agreed-upon purchase price for the property,” he said.

Opposition to the CBP’s plan to build on Blind Bay near Fishers Landing was mounting and included U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate’s majority leader. State and local organizations and lawmakers also opposed it.

Save the River President Jeff Garnsey says the breeze he hears isn’t the wind, it’s a sigh of relief from Mother Nature.

“Thank goodness that the smart folks made the smart decision and they saved this bay,” he said. “If you’ve ever dipped your foot in the river, you’ve got skin in the game. So it was easy to be on the right side this time.”

TILT’s purchase includes 295 feet of riverfront and an adjacent 20 acres.

As for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the organization has other options. Tibbles says the land trust has formally offered to assist with an environmental evaluation of other locations the CBP finds for the facility.

“While we oppose this location, we’re ready and willing to assist to find an alternative site that works for all the stakeholders along the river,” said Tibbles.

And just like Mother Nature... Garnsey says he can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing he has a lot more opportunity to troll for muskies there.

“It’s a pretty good day,” he said.

Tibbles says there is a chance Customs and Border Protection will invoke eminent domain, meaning it could take the property and convert it into public use.

He adds by owning the land, the land trust would be in a better position to legally defend against a move of eminent domain.

We reached out to Customs and Border Protection for comment. We did not hear back.

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