GaspingForAyer.com is a new blog site created by former Ayer selectman Chuck Miller. Miller, who played a role in the crafting of the 1994 Devens Reuse Plan, opposes the proposal to rezone the vacant Vicksburg Square on Devens into a 246-unit, mainly-affordable apartment complex.
By Mary E. Arata
AYER — Former Ayer selectman Chuck Miller has launched a new blog – GaspingForAyer.com.
Miller was the creator of a popular blog site that updated neighbors about the fate of weed-choked Flanagan Pond in Ayer. Now, Miller had created a new blog, dedicated to his opposition to the MassDevelopment proposal to re-zone Vicksburg Square on Devens from an Innovation and Technology hub into a 246-unit affordable housing apartment complex.
Boston developer Trinity Financial needs “yes” votes from Ayer, Harvard and Shirley voters at the upcoming March 28 “Super Town Meeting” in order for the project to proceed.
Miller said he was moved to take his feelings against the project in cyberspace.
“I am extremely frustrated with the condition of this nation and I realize I have no influence on what is happening,” said Miller. “However, at the local level I can affect things.”
Miller was a selectman in the mid 1990s when the former Fort Devens U.S. Army base was in the midst of being decommissioned. Miller helped craft the 1994 Devens Reuse Plan. He said the plan was carefully drafted to ensure that it “protected Ayer’s best interests.”
The upcoming Super Town Meeting vote asks Ayer, Harvard and Shirley voters whether they want to change the Reuse Plan and effectively double the number of housing g units on Devens from the present 282 unit cap to 528 units.
“It amazes me how many people are pushing for the Vicksburg project without any consideration for the long term negative impact,” said Miller. “They completely ignore the history of the project.”
“GaspingForAyer will be my digital soapbox for opining about Ayer politics,” said Miller.
Miller spread the word through friends. Posters with tear tabs with the website address have been posted at various town sites, with no tear-tabs left to take.
Miller said he’s focused on content with the Super Town Meeting vote fast approaching. “It’s only been on line a few days. I haven’t even tracked stats or built in an email subscription link yet. I have simply been emailing the link to those who might care.”
“I’ve placed handbills at the dump, those seem to be going,” said Miller. “People I’ve spoken with are very concerned about the massive public relations blitz that is seducing our leaders who are placing regional benefits above the towns’ interests.”
Miller said that Trinity Financial has hired a public relations agency which has generated positive spin for the project in out-of-town newspapers. But Miller said his blog site is an information source for local voters, with a handle on the background and local history that is missing from metropolitan reports.
“The Vicksburg Square proposal violates the key tenet of the Devens Reuse Plan – Devens is supposed to be an industrial park. Residential expansion should only take place after Devens is disposed of as the 352nd town or reverts back to the original town boundaries,” said Miller. “This whole process is designed to force the ‘new town’ scenario and cut us out of the process. By over-populating the base, Devens residents can storm our Town Meeting, undermining our elections. That is already happening.”
Miller started his postings on March 6, where he explained the origins of the Devens Reuse Plan and provided a link to the history of the decommissioning of the Army base.
In his March 10 blog entry, Miller called the Trinity project a Trojan horse, “because it is a wedge to open the door to large scale residential development of Devens.”
Miller suggests supporters spread his link in all ways possible- Facebook, Twitter and other blogs. But, for the time being anyhow, there will be no ability to post sentiment on the blog site.
“Trinity and MassDevelopment already have their own propaganda machine, I see no reason to provide them access to my forum,” said Miller. “I will be adding an email address for those who wish to engage civilly.”
— Follow Mary Arata at twitter.com/maryearata.