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Breaking with RKG, planning groups approve Devens RFP


By Jon Bishop

HARVARD — The Master Plan Steering Committee and the Planning Board, now having broken with RKG, are in the process of trying to find a way forward.

At joint meetings on April 29 and on May 4, members discussed how to frame a Request for Proposal, or RFP, on Devens, which would draw a new consultant, and how they would approach the rest of the master plan.

On April 29, they suggested it would be prudent to review the working papers, which Selectman Lucy Wallace said were “better vetted.” They were also done by element, which is something members liked.

MPSC member Didi Chadran said the working papers provide a big advantage, because it will be easier for members to assess things.

“It makes getting to the finish line a little bit (easier),” he said.

School Committee Chairwoman SusanMary Redinger said going back to the elements should require some review: Members should take a look at each one and see if everything is okay.

“I think we need to do that kind of work before we say, ‘yeah, we have the capacity to do that,'” she said. “I think we really need to do a critical look at it.”

In discussing the RFP, Wallace said it needs to be really clear: if Harvard has jurisdiction over Devens lands, how would they fill the town’s needs?

Town Planner Bill Scanlan said the approach for the Devens section of the master plan would be thus: the town has identified a need for soccer fields, for example, and Devens would fill that need.

“It’s that kind of analysis,” he said.

On May 4, members discussed putting together the RFP and how they would work with the consultant. Joe Theriault suggested that there should be someone on the Planning Board who is responsible for meeting with the consultant.

McGuire Minar, chairwoman of the Planning Board, asked MPSC members if they envisioned a process where they had elements and small groups reviewing them, leading to a consensus meeting.

“What we did before was everybody read them,” Wallace said, noting that they did it in pairs.

McGuire Minar said they would try to send out the RFP by May 6. Pre-bid conferences would be June 1, and bids would be due by June 10. Then there would be a joint meeting between the MPSC and the Planning Board on June 15.

As for process, members said that, while the consultant gets familiar with Devens, they would finish the other elements.

Members approved the RFP.

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