Forget Airport – Let Devens Keep Up the Good Work

November 7, 2010 : The Boston Globe, Letter-to-the-Editor by Robert L. Culver

Peter Canellos’s article “Aerotropolis: The rise of a vibrant new kind of city – and how Massachusetts missed a chance to have one'' (Ideas, Oct. 31) raised interesting points on how a second major airport in Massachusetts might spark growth. Twenty years ago, the former Fort Devens might have fit the bill, but that time has passed.

The Devens taking shape now in Central Massachusetts is far too valuable as a job, innovation, and technology engine to be turned back into runways and parking lots. The 4,400-acre prize-winning development is a model for military-base redevelopment, the economic hub of the region, and an incubator for cutting-edge green technologies.

In 2005, the Association of Defense Communities named Devens Community of the Year. In 2006, Bristol-Myers Squibb chose Devens as the site for the largest capital project in its history, and became one of more than 75 companies with more than 3,500 employees doing business in Devens.

Meanwhile, two developers will soon break ground on affordable, zero-net-energy homes. A third is proposing to redevelop Vicksburg Square, a complex of historic buildings facing a onetime parade ground.

But for the same kind of community opposition that stopped the airport proposal, Devens would be even more than it is today. Since 2006, area voters have blocked proposals to rezone the project for more residential construction. Despite these setbacks, MassDevelopment continues to work with private- and public-sector partners to bring more jobs to Devens, thereby spurring the Massachusetts innovation economy.

Robert L. Culver
President and CEO

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