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Devens is an unincorporated village and census-designated place in the towns of Ayer and Shirley, in Middlesex County and Harvard in Worcester County. It is the successor to Fort Devens, a military post that operated from 1917 to 1996. The area itself is named after jurist and Civil War general Charles Devens. A comprehensive disposition process has been ongoing since 2003, charged with determining the future governance of Devens. During 2005 and 2006 it was determined that the governance scenario best suited for the regional stakeholders was to create a new independent town. On October 24, 2006, a vote to confirm the disposition recommendation for future governance was voted down by 2 of the 6 stakeholders, the adjoining towns of Harvard and Ayer (residents of Shirley, the Devens residents, MassDevelopment and the Devens Enterprise Commission supported the resolution). On November 7, 2006 during the State elections the second opportunity to vote on Devens disposition had only Harvard voting against the scenario with the towns of Ayer and Shirley supporting Devens as a town. Devens' disposition will now be determined by another disposition process or by the State legislature. Residents of Devens vote in either Harvard or Ayer but still have no elected representatives that have municipal authority on Devens. MassDevelopment maintains the utilities such as gas, electric, and water; and contracts out public safety services such as firefighting and police. Devens residents are represented by an elected committee, the Devens Committee, that is an advisory committee to MassDevelopment. Devens is a non-operating school district. It currently contracts with the town of Harvard for educating children from 6th grade to 12th grade and the town of Shirley to educate children from pre-kindergarten to the 6th grade. However Devens is the home of the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School. Parker is a public charter school with students from about 30 towns in the central Massachusetts area.
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