Since 1991, when Fort Devens was identified for closure, the issue of disposition and jurisdiction has been significant and complex. It has been difficult to determine the will of Harvard residents.
During May and June 2008, the Press ran a three-part feature called "What's so interesting about Devens?"
In July, 2008 the Joint Boards of Selectmen (JBOS), comprising selectmen from Ayer, Harvard, and Shirley, as well as Devens Committee members representing Devens residents, launched a new process to define a disposition process. As a first step, each town (and Devens) would establish "successs criteria" to be used to evaluate disposition scenarios. After each had success criteria satisfactory to their constituents, the JBOS would integrate them into a single set of criteria. Harvard's Board of Selectmen voted to approve Harvard's Success Criteria at its Dec. 2, 2008 meeting.
At the Dec. 4 JBOS meeting, members brainstormed about opportunities that might facilitate or ease transition to disposition. There was near consensus that the immediate focus should be to share resources and services. At the next JBOS meeting on Dec. 18, it was planned that brainstorming would continue, to identify next steps, but the ice storm forced postponement of further deliberation to January.
In the meantime, as 2008 drew to a close, rezoning to allow housing at Vicksburg Square became the priority Devens topic.
During 2008, the Press has had several stories about Devens:
|Dec. 12, 2008
||MassDevelopment looks to bypass Chapter 498 for Vicksburg Square
||JBOS explores shared services to solve regional problems
||Blair proposes JBOS brainstorming session
||Chairman Blair calls into question usefulness of Chapter 498
||Joint Boards of Selectmen work toward collaborative solution
||Education of Devens students, historical perspective
||Interview with Rick Gilles: Ayer selectman aims at regionally sustainable Devens disposition
||Interview with Bill Ashe
||Interview with Victor Normand
||Selectmen accelerate Devens decision process
||BOS turns attention to Devens
||JBOS plans to get Devens expense data
||Devens Revenue Forum, June 16, Volunteers Hall
||Panel on Devens Forum, April 10, 2008, sponsored by Citizens to Protect Residential Harvard to explore the tax revenue potential of Devens. Introducing that forum, Milly Chandler reviewed Harvard's relationship with Devens, spanning some 270 years. The Press also printed Milly's introduction in the April 25 issue.
||Letters:Sewerage to Devens, Candidates differ on Devens
||School board to bid on educating Devens pupils
Between 2B and 2008. After 2B failed to pass in October, 2006, the question of disposition lay dormant for more than a year. In late 2007, the Joint Boards of Selectmen re-formed, and restarted deliberation. In January, Harvard selectmen asked MassDevelopment for detailed analysis of current and potential tax revenue from Devens properties. On April 24, Victor Normand presented a parcel-by-parcel analysis to JBOS.
Scenario 2B - After the "five-year review" (which occurred after seven years operating under the Reuse Plan), the Devens Disposition Executive Board was formed in September, 2004 to "ensure all matters relaing to disposition are addressed, prepare a dispostion recommendation, and to recommend an approval process". In October, 2006 a vote on failed to pass town meeting votes in Ayer and Harvard, ending that move toward disposition.
Timeline - from closure announcement in 1991 through defeat of 2B in 1996. This document was found on the Town of Harvard website, Devens Documents page, Devens History. It is not known who authored the document.
JBOS Mission Statement - Formed in 1992, the Joint Boards of Selectmen was formed to provide leadership in determining base reuse.