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Advancing County Progress: Research & Demonstration Farm Plans, Driving Forward Housing Initiatives and Capital Improvements

April 24, 2024 (BARNSTABLE, MA) — Today’s Commissioners meeting at Barnstable County showcased progress updates on the future Research and Demonstration Farm planned by the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, updates on the County’s 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan, ARPA awards for affordable housing initiatives, and received an update from the Cape Cod Commission on the Cape Cod Canal Bridges Program.

The Future of Sustainable Agriculture at the Research & Demonstration Farm

Today, Mike Maguire, Director of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, alongside Russ Norton, the Extension’s Horticulturist, unveiled their vision for transforming underutilized land into the future Barnstable County Research & Demonstration Farm. This site, which partially continues to serve as the Extension’s office space despite some operations moving to Yarmouth, is largely preserved under a conservation restriction, covering a total of 97 acres. The project, managed by the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, is designed to serve the entire county.

“This project is vital—not just for growing food, but for empowering everyone to cultivate their own delicious, nutritious produce. Understanding how to do this is incredibly beneficial, and we’re excited to spread that knowledge,” said Sheila Lyons, Vice Chair of the Board of Regional Commissioners.

The farm is poised to become a central educational and resource hub for sustainable agriculture across Cape Cod. It will allow for demonstrations for sustainable landscaping, the use of native plants, the creation of pollinator habitats, and the cultivation of various crops. The emphasis will be on promoting educational programs that involve hands-on, experiential learning, along with conducting practical research on techniques such as season extension, protected agriculture, and intensive farming methods. This initiative aims to boost community engagement and support local food production, thereby becoming an essential component of the county’s sustainable development efforts.

Update on Cape Cod Canal Bridges Program

During the Commissioners meeting, Steve Tupper, Deputy Director at the Cape Cod Commission, provided an in-depth update on the Cape Cod Canal Bridges Program. He covered several key topics, including outreach efforts, funding status, and the environmental permitting process for replacing the nearly 90-year-old Bourne and Sagamore Bridges. Highlighting the financial progress, Tupper noted that a significant federal allocation of $350 million has been secured for the project under the Fiscal Year and Water Development Appropriations Act. Furthermore, the state is actively seeking an additional $1.06 billion through the Bridge Investment Program grant, specifically for the Sagamore Bridge, while reaffirming its commitment to replacing both bridges.

The update also detailed forthcoming opportunities for public engagement. MassDOT will host a Virtual Public Information Meeting on April 25, 2024, at 6:00 PM, where the community can share their views and comments online. For more details and to participate, visit the MassDOT Cape Bridges webpage. Additionally, an In-Person Open House is scheduled for May 13, 2024, at the Bourne Veteran’s Memorial Community Center, providing another platform for the public to discuss project progress and offer feedback. More information is available at Cape Bridges |

Update on Barnstable County’s 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan

Paul Ruszala, Assets and Infrastructure Manager at Barnstable County led a presentation on the status of capital improvement projects occurring within County.  Two featured infrastructure projects anticipated to start in Spring 2025 include the Superior Courthouse exterior restoration with an overall project cost of $7 million and the Orleans Second Distract HVAC Improvements with an overall cost of $5.25 million.  An update was provided on the Former Fire Training Academy PFAS site remediation, with plans for groundwater treatment system expansion and site assessment completion in Spring 2025.  A Facilities Needs and Conditions Assessment is planned to start July 2024 to assess the condition of County buildings and serve as a guide for planning future improvement projects.

Driving Forward Housing Initiatives

The Commissioners also approved a significant initiative aimed at enhancing the county’s affordable housing. They authorized a $1,100,000 grant from the County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to Province Post LLC. This funding will support construction costs for a new project at 3 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown, which aims to create 61 units of affordable rental housing. This initiative addresses the urgent need for accessible living options in the area. Additionally, the Commissioners are supporting other affordable housing efforts, including the development of the Henry T. Wing School site into affordable residences.

ABOUT BARNSTABLE COUNTY REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF CAPE COD: Barnstable County provides exemplary government functions and services to keep our community healthy and safe, promote sustainable growth, and offer a proactive, open government that enhances the quality of life for the citizens of Barnstable County. Learn more at