The follow is a letter to the editor from state Rep. Thomas Stanley, D-Waltham, regarding the possible closure of Hanscom Air Force Base.
Given the federal government’s recent announcement that a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission process (BRAC) could begin as soon as 2013 with a second round in 2015, I cannot stress enough the economic importance of keeping Hanscom Air Force Base open.
In 2005, I lobbied Gov. Romney and members of Congress to secure and protect the base’s future through the BRAC process. During this time, I found overwhelming local support to keep Hanscom Air Force Base open. Now, seven years later, the base continues to serve as a major contributor to the Massachusetts economy as well as a serious employer, and it is more important than ever to protect Hanscom Air Force Base.
Massachusetts’ six active military bases employ tens of thousands of residents, which is vital to our economy. Closing any of these bases would further add to Massachusetts’ unemployment woes. The Air Force complex, located in Bedford, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln, is linked to millions of dollars in research contracts for businesses located along Route 128. According to Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and president of the Defense Technology Initiative, there are approximately 115,000 jobs related to the defense industry in the state, two-thirds connected with research at Hanscom.
Keeping Hanscom open is important to Waltham and other neighboring communities as well. Should Hanscom Air Force Base close, the property will become open to commercial development, and will be in direct competition with Waltham's commercial property base. The loss of jobs and increased competition could lower commercial rental rates and increase vacancies which will lower the value of commercial property in Waltham, leading to a reduction in commercial tax revenue. As a result, residents will be affected by higher residential taxes and/or reduction in municipal services.
There are many reasons that the federal government should keep Hanscom Air Force Base open. It is vital to Massachusetts’ continued economic recovery and I will do all that I can to protect the base from closure.
Thomas M. Stanley