Tim Clark’s right. There hasn’t been enough due diligence on the true cost of dumping 350 more housing units and municipal users on the towns of Ayer and Harvard.
And any kind of housing proposal is a tough sell in this economy. What’s in your wallet? Less available equity in your home, you’ve surely noted, and for the many who’ve dipped into their equity to float their lives these past several years, the gravy train is over.
But, then again, Jim Fay’s right (is Fay’s argument the chicken or the egg?) Does available housing draw employers to locate to Devens, or does the start-up of more industry spark the demand for more places to live.
Right now, Fay’s economic driver argument is weak — there’s a glut of housing to be had. For a snapshot of local gloom and doom, look to Groton to see Robert Walker’s fire-sale pricing and bundling of vacant condos together to try to bail out of his stalled development.
The looks on the faces of the visitors to the Vicksburg Square open house on Saturday told volumes. There was a spark. “Wouldn’t it be nice to live here?” While it currently lacks in curb appeal, you could see the sparkle in the eyes of visitors. The chatter filling the hallways. The high ceilings. The grand entranceways. The “bomb-proof” construction (not really, but it’s solidly built!).
It’s just the spark of innovation that may be needed for Devens. With all due respect to Frank Maxant’s valid points that housing acts as a drain on municipalities and that enough time and effort was not expended by MassDevelopment to market the space for IT purposes, might it be time to take the “leap of faith?”
Well, it depends on whether you want to think with your head, like Tim Clark, or your heart, like Jim Fay. Will the finances balance out in the wash? Is it valid to say the time is now else we’ll loose the historic buildings forever?
Channeling the spirits and chemistry of the Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland movie musicals, “Let’s put on a show!” Take the leap of faith, and only if your stomach can handle it, let’s continue the forward momentum and approve the zoning change. Then “trust but verify” that our elected guardians will keep any potential developer(s) in check.
After all, the movie musicals were released at a time when audiences needed to escape from the realities around them. Critics might say the flicks were pithy in nature, but, like the Vicksburg Square project, they could prove popular with the masses.
They both serve(d) a distinct purpose for the masses willing to pay the price of admission.