Friday, March 07, 2014

Barnstable Municipal Airport (KHYA), Hyannis, Massachusetts

Council questions airport’s ‘eyesore’ properties

Puts commission chairman on the spot regarding ‘Mildred’s’ and Kmart Plaza.

Barnstable Airport Commission Chairman Ron Persuitte gave the town council an update last week on ways the commission is looking for ways to increase revenue, including developing land that airport owns.

One of those parcels, on the airport side of Route 28, once held Mildred’s restaurant, was demolished several years ago because of FAA regulations. “We are looking at alternate solutions,” Persuitte said.

The reference to Mildred’s prompted a testy discussion with some council members and drew more questions about the Kmart Plaza on Route 132, which the airport also owns.

“Mildred’s is an eyesore,” Council VP Ann Canedy said. Until the commission decides what to do with the property, she suggested adding a fence and planting some grass on the vacant parcel to “make it look decent.”

To do that would cost a substantial amount of money and would be a short-term solution, Persuitte said. “We need a long-term solution.”

Canedy shot back, “I believe the airport is part of this town and the airport commission needs to understand that.”

Persuitte blamed the delay on the Cape Cod Commission, which he said had asked the airport to wait until a traffic study was completed on that section of Route 28. “We just got the result,” Persuitte said. He said the commission is trying to make the Mildred’s property more viable because it is the “second most valuable parcel the airport owns and should be generating $100,000 in revenue.

Persuitte did not mention Kmart Plaza in his initial report, but Councilor Jim Crocker asked for an update and Councilor Jen Cullum called it one of the “eyesores in this town.”

Persuitte responded, “The council shouldn’t be involved.” He said there is a question of who owns the property. “We are custodians of the land,” he said. The 25.8-acre parcel has 249,000 square feet of buildings across Route 132 from the Cape Cod Mall.

“We’re missing the boat on the Route 132 corridor. It’s where we want big box stores,” Cullum said.

Persuitte explained that the airport has a 56-year-old “ironclad” lease on the property that doesn’t expire until 2024 and produces only $65,000 in annual rent. “That {amount} is disgraceful,” he admitted. “Today we should be generating 10 times the rent for Kmart.”

When councilors Canedy and Cullum both asked why the airport doesn’t get an appraisal of the property for sale purposes, Persuitte said it would be “a waste of time” and cost $45,000 to $50,000. “You can do it if you want,” he told the council.

A developer talked to the airport commission about buying the plaza for $2.7 million, Crocker said, but Persuitte claimed the property is worth more than $6 million.

“Som time we’ll make a determination for the best use. Now there’s nothing we can do,” Persuitte said. “It’s an extremely bitter pill. If we had $800,000 to $900,000 more revenue a year, it would solve a lot of problems.”

Persuitte concluded his defense of the commission’s dealing with the two sites, saying, “We’re trying. This means a lot to us to develop these properties.”

He said a study would be done “down the line,” but Canedy said, “By time the lease expires, we’ll have demolition by neglect.”

At the end of the discussion, Council President Jessica Rapp Grassetti told Persuitte to take the council’s suggestions about an appraisal of the Kmart property under advisement and bring them to the full commission.

Other commission goals Persuitte listed included a jet fuel pricing program and development of a 60,000-gallon above-ground jet fuel storage center, known as an environmentally friendly fuel farm, to replace a 20-year-old underground tank. The airport is seeking state and federal funds for the fuel farm.

The commission also would like to attract non-aviation businesses to some of its properties and improve community awareness by rekindling a group to talk about airport issues, such as noise, water quality and traffic, Persuitte said.

At the same meeting, Barnstable Airport Manager Roland “Bud” Breault this week sought from the council a $5 million loan for the design and reconstruction of the airport’s East Ramp that was built around 1972 and has deteriorated, needing total reconstruction. It is the ramp where most of the jet planes park, including the President’s plane when he comes to Martha’s Vineyard in August, Breault said.

Breault said he was making the request because the notice of the state and federal funds came on short notice and had to be expended no later than June 30. Breault said the ramp would be done by the President’s visit. The council approved the loan.

Other airport projects Breault announced this week included two that are under way: the relocation of a taxiway 50 feet farther from a parallel runway along Barnstable Road and a central deicing pad near the air traffic control tower.

Construction is expected to begin this year on nearly 30 acres of ground-based photovoltaic solar panels on the airfield across from the terminal. Later this year, NStar is expected to begin installing a new high-capacity electric cable along the airfield easement between Mary Dunn Road and Mary Dunn Way near Route 28.

All the projects are part of the airport’s draft master plan.


No comments:

Post a Comment