Opinion

Paul McMorrow

Barracks ready-made for housing

BY ALL reasonable measures, the old Army barracks at Devens is a perfect place to build housing. The barracks at Devens’s Vicksburg Square sit near an active rail line, down the street from a growing cluster of jobs. Utilities are already in place. Building at Devens means putting a historic development back into productive use, instead of bulldozing forests to build far-flung subdivisions. It’s exactly what planners envision when they talk about building smart.

But this is Massachusetts, so reasonable measures don’t apply. Instead, Boston-based developer Trinity Financial is facing stiff opposition to its bid to turn an abandoned barracks complex into housing for seniors, veterans, and working-class families. Devens includes territory in three towns — Harvard, Ayer, and Shirley — and Trinity has to get all three to go along with the proposal. Officials in Ayer and Harvard are kicking up plenty of opposition.

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