Friday, October 25, 2002
MAGIC considers regional impact of Hanscom development
The initiative and potential strength of MAGIC (Minuteman Advisory Group for Interlocal Coordination) in speaking for area needs is demonstrated by its scheduled review of Massport's Hanscom Field Draft Environmental Status Report (ESPR). On the face of it a seemingly dull subject with a potential to draw only the most hardy environmentalists, the meeting to be held in Concord on October 29, may demonstrate MAGIC's growing muscle in speaking for area needs.
Hanscom developments are under Massport supervision. The relationship between Massport and area towns has not always traveled on a two-way street because when matters of common concerns arise, it is usually Massport calling a meeting and saying "This is the way it's going to be." Massport is required to prepare an ESPR every five years. After years of negotiations with the four towns that abut Hanscom (Lexington, Bedford, Lincoln and Concord), the ESPR about Hanscom has been prepared and is in draft status. Public input has been possible at local follow-up meetings on the several aspects of the report: traffic, environment, noise and so forth. These draft review meetings which occurred during September and earlier this month left many area representatives with unanswered questions about matters that will affect them, including the comprehensiveness of traffic estimates and the accuracy of air traffic estimates which do not include cargo. MAGIC has opted to utilize its DRI (Developments of Regional Impact) review process to consider some of the same material and prepare its own comments with respect not to Hanscom development alone, but to the broader perspective of the subregion as a whole. The subregion includes the towns of Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard and Stow.
A range of Hanscom issues
Traffic and noise pollution are the most prominent products of increased activity at Hanscom. There are, however, other aspects of that development which will affect surrounding towns. At least 50 acres of Hanscom are within the Minuteman National Historical Park boundaries. Officials at the park are concerned about ways to mitigate the effects of increased activity at Hanscom. Present aviation operations (2000 figure) are 212,781. Estimates for 2005 are 231,004 to 246,078 and for 2015, 272,461 to 295,828 total aviation operations per year. These figures are from the Environmental Status and Planning Report.
The Hanscom area has three vernal pools and several protected species, as well as several declining species that need protection. The Upland Sandpiper nests on part of the field, and mowing operations are suspended during the nesting season. The Grasshopper Sparrow is also found at Hanscom. Mass Audubon has been involved in environmental planning for the Hanscom area.
There are 850 units of housing at Hanscom Air force Base that lie within the town boundaries of Lincoln. The air force may decide to privatize some of them; and this could affect schools, traffic and other apects of Lincoln responsibilities. Although promised a public comment period about the fate of Hanscom housing, the future use or responsibility of the units is still not clear.
Review meeting October 29
The MAGIC review meeting is scheduled for October 29 at 7 p.m. It will be held in the conference room at the Concord Department of Planning and Land Management, at 141 Keyes Road in Concord. It is an open meeting and the public is welcome.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito