HARVARD -- Updating the selectmen at their meeting last week, Economic Development Committee members reported slow but steady progress on their task list and posited that an official town email address would further their mission.
First on the list was pursuing an Economic Target Area designation for the town. That one's done, the ECD told the selectmen, with legislation signed by the governor in January.
From that time forward, the group has been doing its homework, researching the Ayer Road commercial district for development possibilities. Part of that task was to pinpoint challenges and suggest solutions. Water and sewer hookups, for example.
Devens has capacity, but there's also the option of building a package treatment plant to serve targeted sites where, say, a grocery store or pharmacy might want to set up shop. But since the properties on the EDC radar are privately owned by different people, that could be tough to arrange, members said. For now, they've decided more study is needed.
Citing another completed task, the EDC, working with the Planning Board, developed a modified bylaw to allow solar facilities in the C-district. The measure was adopted at the 2012 Annual Town Meeting.
In its continuing mission to reach out to developers and landowners and update residents on its progress, EDC figures it would be better off working from a town e-mail address. The argument for it is that the official town seal would be more "credible" than sending out mailers from a private email address, as they do now, and it might encourage more response.
EDC also hopes to host business development "events" as part of its marketing plan and continues to support the idea of hiring a Town Planner, which the selectmen have discussed more than once. Bill Johnson, in particular, has pushed for it.
The Master Plan survey showed that residents would like to have a grocery store in town, preferably in the C-district, and EDC is looking into it. They plan to produce a "white paper" on the subject soon that will pinpoint regulatory constraints and recommend changes. Residents also said they'd like a restaurant in town, and the white paper will address that, too.