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The Devens Disposition Executive Board (DDEB) at its April 6 meeting accepted for study the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the disposition of Devens. This 70-page document illustrates the extensive recommendations and analyses of the board and its committees. It sets forth the draft agreements of the six stakeholders for the disposition process which, together with appendices and schedules, show the anticipated development of a new town of Devens.

The draft MOU shows a remarkable and expeditious process to assure smooth passage of scenario 2B, the evolution of the town of Devens. In the view of many participants and observers, the smoothness for a project of this magnitude, having such great impact on the larger region, indicates a dangerous rush to judgment.

There is growing concern that the very smoothness and speed of the process may foreclose or conceal problems and facts that should be addressed prior to the votes in the fall. The calls for a six-month delay, as raised repeatedly by members of the DDEB and many members of the public, should be heard. They reflect the concerns in their towns, as seen in the split votes, both formal and consensus-gauging, on the disposition subjects.

Environmental and open-space issues, which are left for “future study” in a na ve move, are further critical issues for the towns left hanging on verbal assurances. The need for towns to retain at least a semblance of town sovereignty in land-use planning and zoning should be resolved sooner than later.

Increased traffic and congestion are indicated by the mandated housing and the denied but politically imminent rail station and 500-car parking structure. A very preliminary regional traffic study, now being evaluated in Shirley, shows gridlock on a grand scale for the coming decade. (Ayer’s quest for such a facility seems difficult to understand, but that is another story.)

More concerns will be stressed in the coming weeks, and it is hoped that those in high places will reconsider rushing this MOU phase of the disposition process. If they listen, and they may, a six-months delay could provide assurance of a stronger new town of Devens and more satisfied host towns. In a recent public hearing in Shirley it was stressed by MassDevelopment representatives that the MOU is a working document, still being worked upon. Well, let’s give them six additional months to complete, with public input, this key step in the disposition process.

DAVID STEWART

Shirley

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