Compiled by The Bedford Citizen
Hanscom Area Towns Committee (HATS) members met at the Lincoln Town Hall in January to hear a presentation describing recent initiatives for the six major state military installations by John C. Beatty, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force.
HATS community representatives also shared updates from their respective towns. Click this link to read the Community Reports presented in January 2019
Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force (MASS TF)
Director explained that the Task Force mission is twofold: to support and strengthen the State’s military installations and their surrounding communities at the federal state and local level; and to promote beneficial connections among the Commonwealth’s military, business, and academic communities. Click this link to learn more about Massachusetts’ Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force.
When Michael Rosenberg, Bedford Selectman, and Committee member, asked if Hanscom Air Force Base could be vulnerable to future Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure rounds, Beatty replied he believes both HAFB and the Natick Soldier Systems Center are well-aligned with projected Department of Defense National Defense Strategy goals, especially in harnessing and protecting the national security innovation base. Click this link to learn more about Multi-domain Command and Control at HAFB
The Director added that the turnover of the 116th Congress has maintained the strong position of the Commonwealth with respect to the influential Armed Services Committees: Senator Warren retained her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee; Congresswoman Trahan has been placed on the House Armed Services Committee; Congressman Keating transitioned from Homeland Security to the House Armed Services Committee; and Congressman Moulton has retained his seat on the House Armed Services Committee. In addition, he praised the great communication between all the congressional representatives and the Governor’s office, and the team approach to solving problems and ensuring the success of the veteran and military and defense communities.
Potential New Funding for HAFB Partnering with Local Communities on Shared Infrastructure Projects
The 2019 Defense Authorization Bill has created a new authority charged with improving off-Base local and state infrastructure (e.g.: schools, roads, and power stations) that also supports military installations. Beatty explained that MASS-TF is seeking a Congressional funding appropriation for the new authority. He hopes federal money and possible matching state funds may be available for such projects in the near future. Meanwhile, the Task Force is encouraging military bases, including HAFB, to proactively meet with surrounding communities to discuss potential projects of mutual benefit.
The Director said HAFB is well-known for its one-on-one communication and collaboration with neighboring towns in matters such as shared services, and partnering in educational, research and employment opportunities. The Base has recently been asked to participate in an upcoming Association of Defense Communities forum as a national model of good partnering with local communities and state and federal agencies.
MASS-TF Unaware of Bedford Navy Land Divestiture Process
When asked about the possible role of the Task Force in the recent Navy divestiture of part of the Bedford Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant (NWIRP), the Director said he had been unaware that the divestiture had begun and that the land had been turned over to the GSA to be sold at public auction. He explained that MASS-TF does interact with the Navy here in Massachusetts, but to a lesser degree than with the Air Force and Army. The Task Force focus to date has also been on the six main active military installations and surrounding communities in the Commonwealth.
With respect to future divestiture of the Navy property on Hartwell Hill, Mr. Rosenberg stated that Bedford would like to have an exclusive opportunity to negotiate with the Navy to protect the Town against potential disruptive development on divested land. “We’re trying to find the right people to talk to, to make sure that this doesn’t slip under the radar and then all of the sudden the town has to take a defensive posture to protect its interests. We’d rather make sure we have a seat at the table, and we’d like to have the only seat at the table, at least initially…” Beatty replied he would be happy to learn more and to help if he could. (In a later follow-up interview with a Bedford Citizen writer, Director Beatty stated that he “has agreed to take an initial look into the history of the Bedford NWIRP divestiture, including the recent GSA public auction.” https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/02/staking-bedfords-claim-for-a-seat-at-the-table-in-future-navy-land-divestiture-discussions/)