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DEVENS — In recent months, they’ve wondered aloud why they exist.

After months of trying, they’re having a hard time coming to agreement to forge a way forward.

Ayer remains the holdout Devens town as to whether it will put up its town administrator to serve on a so-called Transition Committee tasked with identifying ways that Ayer, Shirley and Harvard can collaborate on regional services among themselves and Devens. The July 28 Joint Boards of Selectmen meeting failed to provide any definitive answer to the question, as two of Ayer’s five selectmen showed up for the meeting — one shy of a legal quorum to take a vote to commit that town’s chief executive administrator to duty.

There were no Shirley selectmen at the meeting. Shirley selectmen have missed several of the past monthly JBOS meetings. However, Harvard Selectman Ron Ricci said he would talk to Shirley Selectman Kendra Dumont.

“To the best of my knowledge, Shirley is on board,” and was ready to submit Shirley’s Chief Administrative Officer David Berry to the cause.

JBOS Chairman Jim Fay of Ayer said the Ayer Board of Selectmen hadn’t deliberated on the matter, though the board has met in open session three times since the last JBOS meeting.

Fay suggested the JBOS move forward to otherwise seat a committee of five members with four alternates, stating that there were eight to 10 others who expressed an interest in serving, including former selectmen from Harvard and Shirley.

“Does that include the town administrators?” asked Harvard Selectman Peter Warren.

“It can, of course,” said Fay. “I’m not restricting it in any way.”

“I think that’s going to be a big problem down the road with no administrators and then Harvard won’t be participating,” said Harvard Selectman Peter Warren.

“I agree,” quickly added Harvard Selectman Marie Sobalvarro.

“So it’s all or none?” asked Fay.

“I wouldn’t represent it that way,” said Harvard Selectman Ron Ricci.

“We’re willing to put the best resource we have on the table.”

The Harvard selectmen laid out an ultimatum at the June 23 JBOS meeting, indicating they would contribute Harvard Town Administrator Timothy Bragan to the mix if the other two towns contributed likewise.

“Get the three TA’s to put their heads together. They know how to administer a town. Then come back to each individual board and say ‘Here’s something we think has some traction.’ ”

The JBOS has rued that it hasn’t had any communal successes to hang its hat on.

“Any other way, we’re just fooling ourselves,” said Ricci.

“Show commitment,” Fay noted to himself. “I’ll bring that to our Tuesday night meeting” at the Ayer Board of Selectmen Aug. 2.

“Putting the town administrator signifies the full commitment that’s needed.”

Ayer Selectman Frank Maxant started with a caveat. “Not having a crystal ball as to what our board will do,” Maxant suggested flexibility. “What we’ve done in the past is we’ve interpreted an appointment to be a selectman on a designee” that could include the town’s economic development director, a Planning Board member or whoever lends the expertise needed on a particular issue.

Maxant hedged to guess that Ayer might agree to participate, “if we were to have that expectation.”

Maxant pressed to know if any selectmen would have any misgivings with that approach.

“For Harvard to be involved, we expect a reasonable degree of success,” said Ricci. For that, it’s necessary to “take out politicians,” Ricci explained. “That way we’ll have our highest chances of success.”

“Any other way, selectmen or Planning Board volunteer, it’s just going to be a waste of time,” said Ricci. Warren and Sobalvarro nodded in agreement. “Maybe talk amongst yourself. Get those guys in a room to see if it’s going anywhere. If it’s not going anywhere, come back and we’ll go to Plan B.”

“I’m going to take this as a success based on the full-commitment idea,” concluded Fay. “Maybe some of my colleagues will change their point of view.”

Meanwhile, Glenn Eaton, the executive director of the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission, has volunteered his service toward a regionalization study.

Fay said, “I see him as a resource.”

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Suspended animation on Devens group
Suspended animation on Devens group
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

DEVENS — In recent months, they’ve wondered aloud why they exist.

After months of trying, they’re having a hard time coming to agreement to forge a way forward.

Ayer remains the holdout Devens town as to whether it will put up its town administrator to serve on a so-called Transition Committee tasked with identifying ways that Ayer, Shirley and Harvard can collaborate on regional services among themselves and Devens. The July 28 Joint Boards of Selectmen meeting failed to provide any definitive answer to the question, as two of Ayer’s five selectmen showed up for the meeting — one shy of a legal quorum to take a vote to commit that town’s chief executive administrator to duty.

There were no Shirley selectmen at the meeting. Shirley selectmen have missed several of the past monthly JBOS meetings. However, Harvard Selectman Ron Ricci said he would talk to Shirley Selectman Kendra Dumont.

“To the best of my knowledge, Shirley is on board,” and was ready to submit Shirley’s Chief Administrative Officer David Berry to the cause.

JBOS Chairman Jim Fay of Ayer said the Ayer Board of Selectmen hadn’t deliberated on the matter, though the board has met in open session three times since the last JBOS meeting.

Fay suggested the JBOS move forward to otherwise seat a committee of five members with four alternates, stating that there were eight to 10 others who expressed an interest in serving, including former selectmen from Harvard and Shirley.

“Does that include the town administrators?” asked Harvard Selectman Peter Warren.

“It can, of course,” said Fay. “I’m not restricting it in any way.”

“I think that’s going to be a big problem down the road with no administrators and then Harvard won’t be participating,” said Harvard Selectman Peter Warren.

“I agree,” quickly added Harvard Selectman Marie Sobalvarro.

“So it’s all or none?” asked Fay.

“I wouldn’t represent it that way,” said Harvard Selectman Ron Ricci.

“We’re willing to put the best resource we have on the table.”

The Harvard selectmen laid out an ultimatum at the June 23 JBOS meeting, indicating they would contribute Harvard Town Administrator Timothy Bragan to the mix if the other two towns contributed likewise.

“Get the three TA’s to put their heads together. They know how to administer a town. Then come back to each individual board and say ‘Here’s something we think has some traction.’ ”

The JBOS has rued that it hasn’t had any communal successes to hang its hat on.

“Any other way, we’re just fooling ourselves,” said Ricci.

“Show commitment,” Fay noted to himself. “I’ll bring that to our Tuesday night meeting” at the Ayer Board of Selectmen Aug. 2.

“Putting the town administrator signifies the full commitment that’s needed.”

Ayer Selectman Frank Maxant started with a caveat. “Not having a crystal ball as to what our board will do,” Maxant suggested flexibility. “What we’ve done in the past is we’ve interpreted an appointment to be a selectman on a designee” that could include the town’s economic development director, a Planning Board member or whoever lends the expertise needed on a particular issue.

Maxant hedged to guess that Ayer might agree to participate, “if we were to have that expectation.”

Maxant pressed to know if any selectmen would have any misgivings with that approach.

“For Harvard to be involved, we expect a reasonable degree of success,” said Ricci. For that, it’s necessary to “take out politicians,” Ricci explained. “That way we’ll have our highest chances of success.”

“Any other way, selectmen or Planning Board volunteer, it’s just going to be a waste of time,” said Ricci. Warren and Sobalvarro nodded in agreement. “Maybe talk amongst yourself. Get those guys in a room to see if it’s going anywhere. If it’s not going anywhere, come back and we’ll go to Plan B.”

“I’m going to take this as a success based on the full-commitment idea,” concluded Fay. “Maybe some of my colleagues will change their point of view.”

Meanwhile, Glenn Eaton, the executive director of the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission, has volunteered his service toward a regionalization study.

Fay said, “I see him as a resource.”

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.