DEVENS -- Devens could be the site of future beneficial community projects, with the help of the state's military bond bill and appropriate public input from the area, officials said Tuesday.
Officials with the state's Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force came before a small crowd in Devens to explain their goal of supporting military bases statewide.
The task force, chaired by Gov. Deval Patrick, Rep. Niki Tsongas and former Sen. William Cowan, identifies the needs of the state's six bases.
Now, these bases could be eligible for projects that benefit not only the military, but the community.
A new military bond bill signed in March allows the governor to spend up to $177 million on projects around the state's bases. Projects must benefit not only the military, but also the state government, the private sector or education.
Adam Freudberg, executive director of the task force, highlighted two projects that have already been approved.
The runway at the Barnes Air National Guard Base was improved for $9 million, he said. The joint air field was run by the city of Westfield and 87 percent of the plans landing there are nonmilitary, he said, so the project benefits anyone using the air field.
That is the type of attractive project the government and the task force are looking for, he said.
The other $2.9 million project improved energy and communications at Hanscom Air Force Base.
"If it makes sense for the military we'll pursue it," he said. "First and foremost, it has to make sense for the military. It's their base, they're the landlord."
Matthew McSwain of MassDevelopment highlighted the agency's role in an energy study that is looking into how bases can adopt energy efficient goals, such as a reduction in greenhouse gases. The team plans to come back into Devens to study more energy opportunities available here, he said.
Freudberg added that the initiative is part of the task force's message on why the military should stay or come to Massachusetts, which has such innovative assets.
"That message has resonated, and it's on us to continue that message and continue to support the military whatever way we can," he said.
Lt. Col. Thatcher Kezer said he is well aware of the challenges of local government. A military installation, he said, has many of the same needs and services as a municipality.
"Part of building collaborations with the surrounding communities is to look at military installations like a municipality," he said. "They should be a part of collaborative agreements, resource sharing, of solving each other's problems with limited resources."
Freudberg ended the discussion emphasizing that there are endless opportunities. The task force, he said, wants to be a resource to the community.