Following the Infrastructure Committee’s January meeting, the Tech Council’s Board of Directors approved the Committee’s recommendation on ARPA spending that included broadband as well as transportation and renewable energy. It was reported that by the end of the comment period the County Commissioners had received over 5,000 comments on prioritization of ARPA funds earmarked for Barnstable County. Some of these comments recommended areas of focus, while others laid out specific projects. It is the Committee’s understanding that the County Assembly and Commissioners are working on a process for reviewing and determining priorities, which is likely to take several months. In addition to county funding, the Cape’s individual towns received allocation of ARPA funds, based on population.
The Assembly of Delegates’ standing committee on telecommunications and energy is holding a remote meeting on February 23 related to broadband. The meeting will clarify “broadband need” in the context of public discussions by elected officials and stakeholders:
- What is the current state of broadband availability and accessibility on the Cape?
- Is there a need on the Cape for additional broadband capacity and availability?
- If such capacity is needed, what’s the cost range to providing it?
- What are the probable benefits, detriments, and externalities of their various means of achieving additional capacity and availability?
This hearing is intended to educate the Assembly and other elected officials on broadband, so there is greater understanding as allocation of ARPA funds is considered.
Several members of the Infrastructure Committee also have ties to the Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation.
In 2014 the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce identified the Blue Economy as a priority for Cape Cod—defined as any industry on the Cape that’s related to water, from the marine science community to restaurants that have relationships with the fishing community. The Chamber has since focused on the Blue Economy as one pillar of sustainable economic development for Cape Cod.
As a 501(c)(3) public charity, the Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation has spearheaded several projects including Waterworks, where high school students were shown the myriad career paths related to the Blue Economy on Cape Cod; Expedition Blue: Waypoints – interpretive structures installed to highlight aspects of the blue economy in each town; and a Blue Economy Implementation Plan.
Committee members have been in conversation with Mayflower Wind, which has expressed an interest in presenting to the Infrastructure Committee. Mayflower Wind is reported to be very publicly engaged, partnering with Bristol Community College and UMass Dartmouth, among others. Based in Boston, Mayflower Wind is building facilities in New Bedford, Somerset, and Fall River to manage their lease hold, which is adjacent to Vineyard Wind.