Fencing to rise around new Border Patrol HQ building this week

PORT ANGELES — Workers will erect temporary protective fencing around the former Eagles lodge property later this week as a prelude to gutting the building for the North Olympic Peninsula’s new U.S. Border Patrol headquarters.

A first step in the $5.7 million construction project was taken Monday with the placement of a portable toilet at the 110 Penn St. site east of downtown, said Dennis Hoffman, quality control supervisor for Blackhawk Constructors LLC of San Antonio.

Hoffman was inspecting the approximately 5-acre parcel Monday morning, which includes a 19,000-square-foot building that will be converted into the new headquarters.

“We’ll get started in a few weeks,” Hoffman said while sitting in his pickup truck in the parking lot.

Fencing will be planted around the commercially zoned parcel Thursday or Friday, he said.

Hoffman did not know the extent to which local contractors or workers would be hired for the project.

“We haven’t gotten that figured out yet,” he said.

By the time the project is completed “sometime next April,” the construction fencing will be torn down and replaced with a 7 foot tall chain-link security fence topped by an additional foot angled at 45 degrees and strung with barbed wire, Border Patrol spokesman Richard Sinks said Monday.

“All of our facilities are secure compounds,” he said.

The Border Patrol is moving from its current “severely undersized” quarters at the Richard B. Anderson Federal Building at 138 W. First St., according to the 217-page final environmental impact statement on the project, available at http://tinyurl.com/3vfzjlr.

The Border Patrol occupies 4,525 square feet in the 80-year-old Anderson Building.

The contingent covers Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Staffing there was four agents since about 1960 when the station was established, according to the study.

In the post-Homeland Security years, staffing increased fourfold beginning in 2006 to 25 agents as of August 2010.

There has been no increase since August 2010, Sinks said.

The environmental study said the new station was built to accommodate 50 agents and said the new headquarters will accommodate “projected increases in staff.”

Border Patrol stations are designed for 50 and 75 agents, agency officials have said.

“There are no immediate plans for going above what we have currently assigned to that station,” Sinks said Monday.

“We’re going to sit where we are now with what we have and move into the new station when it opens up.”

The site will include offices, storage and file rooms, a fitness center with lockers and showers, a dog kennel, a training room, a field support room, a 40-foot radio tower, an emergency generator, above-ground gas an diesel storage tanks, a vehicle maintenance building, and downward-pointing directional lighting at night, according to the environmental study.

Covered parking will be provided for 34 vehicles and uncovered parking for 50 more.

Overall traffic to the site “is expected to decrease slightly” compared with when the Eagles owned the building.

Future work could include construction of a storage shed and renovations of kennels, security systems, lights and parking areas, according to the study.

The study envisions the new Border Patrol station offering an “insignificant but beneficial long-term increase on public safety from increased international border security.”

Also housed in the Richard B. Anderson building is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which also is moving, but to a leased space.

ICE spokesman Ross Buffington said Monday no decision has been made on a new location.

The sale of the Eagles Aerie 483 building to the federal government closed April 14.

The Eagles have since purchased property east of the city limit behind the 2709 E. Highway 101 Safeway for a new lodge.

Aerie members are temporarily housed at the former St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store at 112 E. Eighth St.

The Border Patrol operates under U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which “is charged with the mission of enforcing customs, immigration, agriculture and numerous other laws and regulations at the nation’s borders while facilitating legitimate trade and travel through them,” according to the environmental study.

The Border Patrol “is the CBP component that is responsible for protecting the United States border between points of entry,” the study said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at [email protected]

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