With the deadline for filing legislation on time in the Massachusetts Legislature taking place last Wednesday, Jan. 10, I wanted to make sure that the people of Ayer, Harvard and Shirley know that one of the bills that I filed was a citizen’s petition establishing Devens as a town, at the request of many residents of Devens. I want to be clear that I neither support nor oppose this bill, but rather it was filed because in Massachusetts any citizen of the commonwealth can ask their legislators to file a bill on their behalf.
The substance of the bill mirrors the “Option 2B” that the people of Ayer, Harvard, Shirley and Devens voted on in October 2006, and I am happy to provide anyone with a copy of the bill.
The bill, like every piece of legislation filed, could be heard by a legislative committee, which holds a public hearing for every bill before the committee. None of the legislation filed by legislators in Massachusetts has been sent to any committee yet, but that will likely happen over the next month or two.
As for my role in determining disposition for Devens, my focus is on working to bring together all of the Devens stakeholders, in a consensus manner, that will result in more special town meetings where voters of each municipality will be able to vote on the disposition plan.
The Devens residents who have submitted this citizen’s petition have worked hard on this legislation, just as they, and the many town officials, citizens’ groups, state agencies and employees worked very hard on the Devens Disposition process that took place over the past two years. With the new year upon us, it is my hope that all stakeholders and citizens can work together to determine Devens’ disposition in an open, efficient, and visionary manner. The needs of the local communities, regional economy, and state values and interests demand such an approach.
JAMES B. ELDRIDGE
37th Middlesex District