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
Dec. 12 JBOS explores shared services to solve regional problems
Nov. 14 Blair proposes JBOS brainstorming session
Nov. 14 Chairman Blair calls into question usefulness of Chapter 498
Nov. 7 Joint Boards of Selectmen work toward collaborative solution
Oct. 10 Education of Devens students, historical perspective
Oct. 10 Interview with Rick Gilles: Ayer selectman aims at regionally sustainable Devens disposition
Sept. 19 Interview with Bill Ashe
Sept. 12 Interview with Victor Normand
Sept. 5 Selectmen accelerate Devens decision process
July 18 BOS turns attention to Devens
July 4 JBOS plans to get Devens expense data
June 20 Devens Revenue Forum, June 16, Volunteers Hall
April 18 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.
March 28 Letters:Sewerage to Devens, Candidates differ on Devens
Feb. 4 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. 

Oct. 11, 2007 Residents hear Devens housing proposal

Sept. 28, 2007

Selectmen hold hearing on Devens Acceptance Criteria
Nov., 2006 Published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in November, 2006, reporting on the status of the Fort Devens Superfund Site, this Site Reuse Profile report contains an excellent summary of the history of Devens reuse, from enactment of Chapter 498 in 1993 through the time of the report.

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.

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