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Harvard spends three hours hammering out town’s position in Devens document

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HARVARD — The first draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the document that would create a new town called Devens, went before the Harvard Board of Selectmen in a three-hour public hearing on April 28. The document, prepared by the Devens Disposition Executive Board (DDEB) will eventually outline all of Harvard’s interests and concerns about the project.

Some of the 35 or so people attending the hearing had strong opinions on the subject, but Selectman Chairman Randall Dean declined to hear them. Dean made it clear early on that the purpose of the night’s hearing was not to rehash history or debate the disposition process, but to review and revise the MOU document the board had in hand.

Some speakers strayed into other areas, however.

Former Selectman William Ashe, now a member of the Planning Board and other committees, expressed concerns that the disposition process was moving too fast and he cast doubts about MassDevelopment’s dealings with the towns so far. He said people should know that the MOU was written by MassDevelopment attorney Lee Smith.

Richard Maiore, of the DDEB’s governance committee, conceded that Smith had edited the document hammered out by his group.

Ashe wanted to know if town counsel had reviewed the document on Harvard’s behalf.

”Not yet,” said Chairman Dean, “but it’s a good idea, though.”

John Marshall, of Ayer Road, asked how board members viewed their roles in the disposition process. Each member answered the question in turn.

Lucy Wallace felt it was important to hear from the town. “I would feel very uncomfortable acting alone .. signing this document,” she said.

”I represent the town,” stated William Marinelli, who also serves on the DDEB. In role on the DDEB, he said, he must take a broader view that includes the other stakeholders in the future of Devens.

Robert Eubank said that he, too, saw himself as representing the town, “or at least a portion of it.” Eubank called for a “thoughtful, well-reasoned conclusion” and a full exploration of all options. “I am committed to making that happen,” he said.

Chairman Dean said the board should deal with the matter at hand, the MOU draft and the 2B scenario, and get the best deal possible within that framework. If the “final answer” to the 2B question is yes, he said, Harvard will need to state all of the conditions and requirements it expects in the deal on the table. If the answer is no, the process would begin again.

Scott Kimball said he sees the board’s job as “shepherding” the 2B-based disposition process along, with the input of the town. He said the election results endorsed that view.

Kathy Marble, of Littleton County Road, said the ballot vote should not outweigh the vote taken at town meeting.

”I am concerned that the town meeting vote (on article 15) was not taken with equal seriousness,” she said. Selectman Marinelli said the vote was only an advisory and not binding, but Marble said she did not understand that at the time.

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