President Donald Trump may be getting a wall.
The barrier line of yellow school buses is gone from Palm Beach International Airport, and plans are in motion to have something more permanent in place ahead of Trump’s next visit to his Mar-a-Lago Club.
The buses served as a temporary shield for Air Force One when it was parked on the south side of PBIA off Southern Boulevard during Trump’s visits. But they were never supposed to be “a permanent solution” to presidential aircraft security concerns, said Jerry Allen, deputy director of planning and development for Palm Beach County’s airports department.
“You get a request from the Secret Service, ‘Can you screen this area off?’ and you react as quickly as you can,” Allen said.
That quick reaction resulted in the bumper-to-bumper school bus setup seen for the past several months just east of the Atlantic Aviation terminal at PBIA. Most of those buses were removed this past weekend, and Allen said the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is working on an alternative with contractor TCP Security Solutions of Tampa.
The same company worked with PBSO to place reinforced barriers along roads near the Eau Palm Beach in Manalapan during the April visit to Palm Beach by China’s President Xi Jinping, who stayed at the Manalapan resort with his delegation as he and Trump held a summit at Mar-a-Lago.
For that visit, officials relied on TCP’s BarrierGuard 800, eight-foot-tall panels of steel fence that was placed on two-foot-tall concrete walls along South Ocean Boulevard and East Ocean Avenue, according to a video TCP Security Solutions manager Casey Wasielewski posted recently to YouTube.
“The beauty of this product is it is the only temporary barrier that is a roadway barrier as well as a security barrier,” Wasielewski said in the video, noting that it is the only barrier in the U.S. that has both of those ratings.
The Palm Beach Post has reached out to Wasielewski and PBSO for comment. Allen said he did not know what the cost would be to build the barrier, or when it is expected to be in place.
A protester is taken into custody near the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan on April 6. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post) pic.twitter.com/zm3w2Rf4kH— Eliot Kleinberg (@eliotkpbp) April 6, 2017
It may be possible for the county to apply for reimbursement to cover the barrier’s cost, under the federal budget deal approved in May. That bill included $61 million — out of the total $1 trillion — for local law enforcement agencies who provide security for Trump when he visits his residences, including Mar-a-Lago, from election day through Oct. 1, when next year’s budget is slated to take effect.
To qualify for reimbursement, county officials would have to show that the price of building the barrier was “in excess of the costs of normal and typical law enforcement operations,” and that it was directly related to protecting the president and requested by the director of the Secret Service.
County officials estimate about $4 million has been spent on security related to Trump’s seven visits to Palm Beach since taking office and two stays here as president-elect.
The steel fences put up ahead of Jinping’s visit took a few days both to erect and disassemble, potentially an appealing trait for a security team that may have to contend with, at times, several presidential weekend visits in a row as Trump is expected to begin visiting Mar-a-Lago again when Palm Beach’s social season resumes in the fall.
Officials have some time to determine the best option.
“We don’t anticipate him (Trump) coming back for awhile,” Allen said.