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VonLoesecke has strong words for two Harvard selectmen

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DEVENS — As a stakeholder in Devens disposition and the final vote in November 2006, the Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) has conducted an ongoing conversation on the process for determining the former base’s future.

Last Tuesday, that discussion resumed with talk of the joint session between the Harvard selectmen and the Devens Committee.

DEC Chairman William Marshall said that Devens Committee member Michael Boucher remarked that the state may get involved to protect its investment at Devens if a suitable resolution is not attained, which Marshall compared to throwing down a gauntlet.

Harvard representative James DeZutter said Boucher’s statement was certainly a true one, though Marshall responded the legislation governing Devens allows 30 years for the stakeholders to reach a suitable settlement.

Thirty-year deadline or not, the target date at this point for the disposition process is November 2006.

Devens resident and DEC appointee John Knowles said he has heard talk of the state getting involved. In Devens, there’s a fear factor attached and residents are not being told about the 30 years left to reach a settlement.

Knowles also said the joint meeting between the Devens Committee and Harvard was stacked with 14 people who supported the position that a new town is best. No community-wide communication about the meeting was circulated beforehand at Devens, he said, leaving those who attended all of the same mind.

Marshall acknowledged that there seemed to be a question of inclusiveness with that meeting. In the future the Devens Disposition Executive Board (DDEB) could offset any deficiencies in that department, he said.

“That criticism is going to come up through this process,” he said. “The executive board is going to try to be all-inclusive the best we can.”

Harvard resident and DEC Vice Chairman Paul VonLoesecke was at the joint meeting and related his account of it. He said there was a statement of position from both sides and that three of the five Harvard selectmen said they would support Devens becoming a town.

He also accused one selectman, which he did not name, but identified as the sole woman on the board, of not having any ears, saying she maintained the same position about Devens since she got on the board.

In response, Lowitt said that could be called consistency and the commission moved on.

Though VonLoesecke did not name any names, he was clearly talking about Selectmen Robert Eubank and Lucy Wallace, both of whom held off supporting Devens as a town. The said they would like more information to support the assertion that it’s the best option for all.

VonLoesecke further noted only two non-selectmen from Harvard were at the meeting, which was an indication of the lack of interest in the community.

Asked why the meeting in Harvard was posted at the last minute by Knowles, VonLoesecke blamed the pressure to meet milestones in the disposition process, without specifying from whom.

At that point, one commissioner pointed out that sort of short notice gives the perception things are happening behind closed doors, which VonLoesecke answered by saying the posting met the legal 48-hour requirement.

In other news, VonLoesecke updated the DEC on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that MassDevelopment has commissioned and brought the Governance subcommittee, which works under the DDEB.

Asked what the MOU is, VonLoesecke said, “An outline of all the information that’s needed to make an agreement (on Devens).”

The document was first introduced by MassDevelopment two months ago. VonLoesecke said modifications submitted by MassDevelopment the previous night were mostly word-smithing, an assessment Shirley resident and DEC alternative John Oelfke termed subjective and did not agree with.

Having attended the meeting as well, Oelfke said the modifications pertained to “items of substance” such as the regionalization of utilities and transfer of properties, which VonLoesecke acknowledged was a more or less fair assessment of the changes.

Oelfke said the document covers two phases. The first is what needs to be learned to make a decision about Devens’ future, and the other is what necessary steps are needed to bring that decision to the legislature.