DEVENS -- There's been a chilly reception from Ayer, Harvard and Shirley to a suggestion that each town's selectmen gather to discuss potential changes to the Super Town Meeting procedure for altering the Devens Reuse Plan.
Changes require yes votes from each town's Town Meeting. Any one town may veto a proposal to amend the Devens Reuse Plan. It's happened three times in a row.
The last Super Town Meeting to unite the three towns was in 1994, when the Devens Reuse Plan was approved.
Tom Kinch of Devens has urged a change to a total, blended vote tally across town lines. Kinch asked JBOS representatives to return to their respective boards to gauge interest in a special JBOS meeting to hash out the issue.
Rico Cappucci said Shirley selectmen would meet collectively only after seeing proposals in writing. "They want to see what they're going to come here and look at...so that when the boards come here, they're prepared."
JBOS Vice Chairman Frank Maxant said Ayer selectmen have telegraphed mixed interest in an all-selectmen's meeting.
"Again, our chairman, in some kind of mood, said 'I'm through with JBOS," said Maxant.
Fay vented at the end of the May 22 Ayer Board of Selectmen meeting, "I'll say this once more and hopefully not again. I've spent the better part of my political career at JBOS," said Fay. "I'm not going back again. I'm done."
But Maxant was hopeful that Fay would come around. "We know he is nothing if not
Devens Committee member Phil Crosby said he'd advise his peers about a potential all-boards meeting.
There was no Harvard selectman present.
Cappucci again explained that Shirley selectmen want a draft in writing before committing. Maxant liked the idea, too.
Kinch sighed and said "We really don't have the resources" to reduce the issues to writing. "Let's have a small committee work with MassDevelopment to come up with changes that they might be amenable to ... We need them to be a partner to sit at the table."
"I think that there's value to the spirit of what Rico is talking about," answered MassDevelopment's Devens administrator, George Ramirez. "However, MassDevelopment has led and spearheaded a number of initiatives and they just don't go anywhere. The jury's out."
"I'm happy to go and say to (MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones) that the JBOS is kicking this around and they'd like us to be helpful and part of it," said Ramirez. "The other half of me says you all have city solicitors. We'd sort of be the city solicitor for the Devens Committee."
Ramirez feared any perception that "MassDevelopment's looking to do it."
Cappucci said using town counsel isn't likely due to the expense.
Ramirez suggested JBOS "enlist Sen. (Jamie) Eldridge or other state officials" since "they have legislative directors who write legislation."
"I think there is a problem with the current voting process," said Crosby. "We might be the only four people who say there's a problem."
"It's an obvious problem for Shirley," said Cappucci. "They don't even want to come to JBOS...nothing gets done. Either one or two towns knock it out of the box ... If you consider that a problem. Some may not."
The Vicksburg Square vote irked Cappucci. "The buildings are rotting. Nothing's getting done. And the animosity between the towns -- one sticks up for it. The (2009) popular vote seems to indicate it should have been done."
"We've been to bat three times," said Cappucci.
"There are some who'll say that's the way the system works," said Kinch.
Maxant said the work needed to come from local residents, not Boston bureaucracy. "I agree with you, Frank," said Crosby. "This has to organically come through the consensus of all the parties."