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The article to be voted on in the forthcoming Super Town Meeting that would consider the Devens Reuse Plan to be changed to allow residential development of the Vicksburg Square area is of little net benefit to Ayer. Are we even considering the effects of piling on more housing units to a growing stock of foreclosed, unsold and yet-to-be developed homes in Ayer and the other surrounding towns? This essentially subsidized development can only continue the downward pressure on area home prices and cause more marginal housing stock to go into distress.

When the towns originally approved having MassDevelopment redevelop the former Fort Devens, the whole idea was that MassDevelopment would replace the lost jobs at Fort Devens with new jobs created by commercial enterprises, a job certainly done very well. Vicksburg Square was to be part of this new job engine, but it did not work out as did many of the building reuse schemes. MassDevelopment has had the most success by demolishing former Army buildings and offering vacant building lots. Maybe Mass Development would have better luck in demolishing Vicksburg Square and then offering it for commercial, not residential, development as the towns originally agreed to.

Not the least consequence of allowing Vicksburg Square to go into residential development is that we are further predisposed to allowing at least 2,000 more housing units that were on the verge of being built prior to the rejection of Option 2B. This huge increase in the population at Devens will strengthen a voter contingency to rekindle the argument that Devens should be a separate town. If that happens, we can give up all hope about regaining the hundreds of prime land lost by Ayer over 90 years ago.



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