AYER - And then there was one.
Interest among the Ayer selectmen to attend once-monthly meetings of the Joint Boards of Selectmen (JBOS) has waned. On Tuesday, the board agreed to advertise for a community volunteer to serve as an alternate Ayer JBOS representative in the event Ayer's primary JBOS representative - selectman Frank Maxant - is unable to attend.
The JBOS was established in the wake of the Fort Devens Army base closure to help bring the towns' perspectives and advice regarding the 4,400 acre Devens Regional Enterprise Zone (DREZ). The JBOS was originally comprised of a selectman each from Ayer, Harvard and Shirley. Later, representation from the Devens Committee was added.
The group fell dormant, and then was revived several years ago with a call for all selectmen from each of the three towns and all the Devens Committee members to participate as JBOS members. When the number of meeting attendees dwindled, the JBOS reinvented itself again over the past year to include one primary and one alternate representative from each of the four communities.
The JBOS now also includes a seat at the table for a non-voting member of state agency MassDevelopment. MassDevelopment is tasked with the DREZ management and build out.
The primary MassDevelopment JBOS representative is Executive Vice President for Devens Operations George Ramirez, a former Lowell City Councilor. MassDevelopment Land Entitlement Land Director Edmund Starzec is the agency's alternate
But even the revamped idea of a leaner, meaner JBOS has faltered.
Shirley selectmen voted against participating in the rebooted JBOS, stating the group was unproductive and a waste of their time. They later relented and appointed former Shirley selectman and former JBOS Chairman Rico Cappucci as Shirley's representative. .
Former Harvard selectman Peter Warren was the primary representative for that town but opted against re-election this spring. Harvard has not sent a representative to the last two JBOS meetings and has tapped selectman Tim Clark as a JBOS 'liaison'. The Harvard selectmen have deliberated recently about whether or not to remain involved in the JBOS at this time.
Former JBOS Chairman and current Ayer selectman Chairman Jim Fay had been tapped as Ayer's JBOS alternate to attend in Maxant's place when necessary. However, on Tuesday Fay announced, "I'll no longer be the JBOS alternate."
Eyes darted around the table to see who'd serve in Fay's stead. Selectman Pauline Conley nominated freshman selectman Christopher Hillman. "I will not touch that with a 10 foot pole," said Hillman without hesitation. "But thanks."
Fay said Conley was asked but that she "refused."
"Declined," corrected Conley.
Maxant suggested Ayer adopt Shirley's approach and seek a non-selectman volunteer to serve as Ayer's standby JBOS representative. The selectmen voted unanimously to advertise the position.
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