U.S. Border Patrol Hopes to Build New Erie Facility
Reported by: Kim Thomas

Monday, Mar 2, 2009 @04:28pm EST

Space and security. Those are the reasons the U.S. Border Patrol wants to move its Erie station to a new facility. Erie's Border Patrol unit has essentially outgrown its current home at the Port Authority's Cruise Boat Terminal. Now officials hoping to build a new facility that will provide more security and will be better suited for their needs.

They've proposed a new 30,000 square foot facility located in Fairview Business Park.

"The fact that we're gonna have a new station will only enhance our ability to process more apprehensions as we get more people assigned to the station, generally the more people you have assigned to the station, the more apprehensions you're going to have and the easier it'll be for us to handle the incoming detainees and arrests," said AJ Price, Border Patrol.

The $6 million dollar project would accommodate agents, employees and detainees in a more secure facility. They can dictate how many holding cells they need, as well as areas for sally ports, locking mechanisms and other security features.

Price adds, "the one we're at now, everything's retrofitted and there are a lot of times we rely on personnel providing security more so than the facility itself."

One feature of the proposed complex is a sally port. The cruise boat terminal doesn't have one.

Price says, "you pose more risk of escape because you're exiting from one vehicle into the door whereas a sally port, you bring the vehicle into a secure area and there's no escape from there."

If the border patrol leaves the cruise boat terminal, that will leave the Port Authority with an empty building.

"We still intend on using it for cruise boats, we have three cruise boats coming this summer, we also still looking at ferry service if this economy ever turns around," said Ray Schreckengost, Director Erie-Western PA Port Authority.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:00pm Fairview Township Municipal Building.