By: Terace Garnier, WPBF News Channel 25
MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Boaters and pilots now have an option to do all the required check-in procedures at the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility at the Martin County Airport.
"Yeah, it was a long time," Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith said. "There were some hurdles along the way but at the end of the day a lot of people were working towards a common goal."
In the past travelers from the local area would have to make multiple stops during international trips, which prompted city leaders to build the nearly $2 million facility in Stuart.
"They don't have to go to Fort Pierce anymore if they don't want to. They don't have to Palm Beach if they don't want to. Now they can come here instead of landing in another airport and then taking off again or driving again depending on if they're a boater or flier," Acting Port Director Marcia Thompson said as she gave media and other visitors a tour.
Over the years the project faced many setbacks from funding to permitting issues.
"There was a period of time that the project was put on hold for two years and we took a couple steps back, but the business community and the council, the chambers everybody that was really involved in the association really always stayed focused," Smith said.
Smith told WPBF 25 the new facility will also have a major economic impact in the area.
"..... it's not just the individuals that are using a boat or if they are using an airplane they are benefiting from the additional business being created here. It's the insular businesses here that are feeding that industry on the side that have thousands of employees that participate in the benefits this airport being a successful, safe predictable place and having customs just a really super important feature that we added," Smith said.
But the acting port director explained they can't open the doors just yet…