Borderexpansion public hearing set

Published on Thu, Feb 10, 2005 by ack Kintner

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Border expansion public hearing set

By Jack Kintner

The next in a series of public hearings involving the Peace Arch border expansion is set for Thursday, February 17 at 6 p.m. at the Blaine Senior Center, 763 G Street. The Peace Arch Port of Entry (POE) facility, the blue and white “customs building” immediately south of the Peace Arch where cars crossing the border are inspected, is being replaced by a much larger facility by the General Services Administration (GSA).

The project was delayed as a result of the terrorist attacks in 2001 but was revived last year with hearings conducted by the GSA in Blaine as a part of the initial phases of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS). Called NEPA hearings, because they’re required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the GSA used them to introduce three alternative designs for the new building that will replace the present structure.

Earlier designs involved using part of Peace Arch State Park for a new parking lot, since plans call for the new structure be built over the present parking area. Following objections raised against using park land, the GSA came back with three designs that would entail condemning the entire neighborhood north of Paso del Norte restaurant, west of 2nd Street and south of the parking lot for the Peace Arch State Park.

Affected homeowners in the area have asked the GSA how it intends to acquire their property, but the GSA cannot respond individually until they've completed the initial public study and dialogue, which is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The GSA’s project manager Mark Howard has included time for an educational event in the open hearing to explain how in general the process works.

Copies of the proposal, officially the “Environmental Scoping Document, Peace Arch Port of Entry Redevelopment,” are at the Blaine Library and also can be obtained from Herrera Environmental Consultants, 2200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1100, Seattle, WA 98121.