SHIRLEY — Selectman Leonardo “Chip” Guercio has long represented selectmen on the Joint Boards of Selectmen, (JBOS) but had not attended meetings for the last few months.
At the Nov. 3 selectmen’s meeting, Guercio addressed the matter.
An advisory group currently made up of selectmen from Ayer, Harvard and Shirley and representatives from the Devens Committee, the JBOS meets monthly to discuss Devens disposition. That is, in part, what shape and form the former military base will take and how its thousands of acres of Real Estate will be divided.
In its first incarnation more than a decade ago, the JBOS was a selectmen’s-only group that provided a pipeline to MassDevelopment and represented each town’s interests as the disposition process moved forward. It stopped when town meeting voters in Ayer and Harvard nixed a town-building proposal known as Scenario 2B. Shirley voted for it.
As the process re-started this year, the JBOS asked the towns for success criteria.
But that lone affirmative vote explains why Shirley backed away from the process, Guercio said. “We took a little break.”
Shirley’s hiatus from the JBOS didn’t cost the town any ground, he said, and “Mass Development wasn’t there, either.”
The state agency that manages Devens has stayed away to let the towns work on their disposition success criteria, he said.
Shirley has its criteria from the last go-round, he said, while the other towns still had work to do on theirs. “There was a feeling that Ayer and Harvard had to come together,” he said.
“There’s still dialogue on disposition,” Guercio said.
Harvard and Ayer have held public meetings on the matter. Shirley has not. Guercio has said that the old disposition package laid out what Shirley wants and that hasn’t changed.
Still, the JBOS asked that Shirley revisit its wish list as the larger group attempts to come to consensus before taking it to another vote.
In September, town administrator Kyle Keady sent the list to town boards for comment. Basically, it corresponds to categories in the Devens Disposition Executive Board (DDEB) governance committee’s memorandum of understanding (MOU), a document that made the rounds in 2006.
With the MOU as a template, the towns inserted their slants on the disposition deal. Categories included governance, boundaries, land ownership, zoning, housing, education, financial sustainability, education and environmental protection.
Key items for Shirley included a land swap with MassDevelopment in which the town would exchange town-owned frontage on Front Street for a small parcel next to the municipal complex and school.
In another 2B perk, re-drawn boundaries would return jurisdiction of all areas west of the Nashua River to Shirley.
Guercio attended the last JBOS meeting and said he intends to do so from now on. From January through March, 2009, the meetings will be held in Shirley, which will take its turn as chair, he said.