Danforth Property Committee Explores Options To Raise Funds

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By: James Kinsella
Published: 03/04/11

One of the more unique public spaces in the town of Barnstable is the 217-acre Danforth property in Marstons Mills, home of the grass Cape Cod Airfield where small propeller airplanes fly in and out.

But the property, which needs to maintain its aging airfield facilities, faces an uphill fight in the competition for capital funds in Barnstable, where the town has about $4 million to spend versus annual requests of $250 million or more.

So the Danforth Property Advisory Committee and Barnstable Town Manager John C. Klimm are exploring other ways to get needed funds to maintain and improve the property.

“It’s a huge challenge,” said Barnstable Town Councilor Henry C. Farnham of West Barnstable, chairman of the advisory committee.

The idea, Mr. Farnham said, is to bring in enough revenue to keep the airfield going, an operation that he said “has been tremendously well-received” by the public.

Meeting Tuesday at the Burgess House in Marstons Mills, the advisory committee mulled a number of the alternatives.

One would be the creation of a “Friends of Danforth” nonprofit group, which could help raise funds for the property.

Barnstable Town Councilor Janice L. Barton of Marstons Mills, a member of the advisory committee, has agreed to head such a group.

Another is the possible siting of photovoltaic solar panels on the property, a course suggested by Mr. Klimm.

The advisory committee already has been looking into the concept of clearing a section of the property north of the airfield and devoting part of the property to agriculture as a way to generate funds.

Growing vegetables and fruits could generate up to $20,000 a year, according to Mr. Farnham.

Mr. Farnham said the property may be able to accommodate both agriculture and solar energy generation.

Mr. Klimm also has suggested the committee explore grant funding from the state Department of Transportation.

Airfield Manager Chris Siderwicz, whose father previously ran Cape Cod Airfield, said such grant funding could be the answer to the problem of the airfield’s aging underground fuel tank.

When it comes to the tank, Mr. Siderwicz said, “We’re on borrowed time.”And if the tank fails and the airfield cannot provide fuel, Mr. Siderwicz said the facility would lose its legal airfield status overnight.

Mr. Farnham estimates it might cost $30,000 to $40,000 to remove the underground tank and provide a new one.

The advisory committee also plans to pursue an application to the town Community Preservation Committee for historic preservation funds for the windmill at the airport, a structure estimated to date back to about 1929.

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