Letters to the Editor

Customs in commercial core? Poor fit for Friday Harbor | Letters

The Oct. 15, 2013 edition of The Island Guardian and the Oct. 30, 2013 San Juan Journal (New lease puts U.S. Customs office in heart of downtown Friday Harbor) announce Customs is leasing the large commercial Spring Street storefront (previous Windermere Real Estate office) in downtown Friday Harbor complete with “holding cells, state of the art communication with major remodeling and interior construction…”

The landlord of the property retorts, "This is good for the town and good for the nation. These people are our neighbors. They are protecting our community and people should respect that."

Frankly, Mr. Landlord, what makes you think we do not?

Reasonable persons understand the need for proper border protection and customs laws including the critical benefits of safety and security they provide. However, placement of this essential, necessary and quasi-reclusive federal agency requiring some level operational concealment and security in a commercial corridor of a small town dependent on tourism and positive image seems irrational.

Furthermore, doing so will require every resident and tourist to pass it each and every time they visit or return home. Frankly, who would want to shop, dine or browse shops in an area next to a federal office with a jail?

This federal agency is our new “Welcome Center”?

Worse yet, I imagine refitting a decade old plus commercial building to standards of a modern law enforcement facility is immense. Security is necessary for protection of everyone.

Considering that evil-doers in the world present a clear and present threat to any public area regardless of massive security precautions (see Boston Marathon), is placement of this facility in the center of Spring Street painting a target on or about the epicenter of tourist and commercial activity for the entire county?

I fully support and respect the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the work they do to keep us all safe. I want to feel safe and I want border protection and customs staff to be safe.

I want them here and we all need them here. I just wish they were a little more discreet.

Gary Waters/Friday Harbor


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