The Hanscom Area Towns Committee (HATS) has scheduled its first meeting in almost a year for Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. on Zoom.
The committee, with roots that reach back more than 40 years, comprises representatives from the four towns contiguous to Hanscom Field. Bedford, Concord, Lexington, and Lincoln each send a delegate from their respective select boards and planning boards. All towns except Lincoln also have two at-large members, one usually from the conservation commission. Only the select board members vote.
The last meeting of the organization was in June 2022. The last in-person meeting was in February 2020.
Thursday’s agenda features a lot of catching up: a brief review of the committee’s mission, updates on membership, Hanscom field and Hanscom Air Force Base, and status reports on municipal projects and initiatives.
Besides issues directly related to the airfield, Massport, and the base, HATS has explored regional transportation and roles of town governance.
Emily Mitchell is the Bedford Select Board representative to HATS, first appointed as an alternate in 2019. She said she is pleased to be reconnecting “to discuss the local and regional issues that affect our four towns, including the proposed expansion at Hanscom Field.”
Doug Lucente of the Lexington Select Board is chair of HATS. He acknowledged that the proposal to add almost 500,000 square feet of hangar space to the North Airfield area of Hanscom will be a prominent topic of discussion at coming monthly meetings. So will plans to mark the 250th anniversary of the start of the American Revolution in the spring of 2025.
“It will definitely be cool to get things back into rhythm and get the communities engaged again,” said Lucente. “I’m excited to bring forward some meetings that will allow the communities to have time to engage on topics that we are all interested in.”
HATS can trace its origin to the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission, established by legislation in 1980, six years after the Massachusetts Port Authority assumed management of Hanscom Field from the U.S. Air Force.
A few years later, a separate Hanscom Area Traffic Study Committee, known as HATS, was established. That panel’s role was broadened in 1988 to land-use issues, under a memorandum of understanding signed by the selectmen chairs of the four towns. That’s when the current name was adopted, though the original acronym remains.
Another memorandum of understanding, in 1992, enlarged HATS concerns to include traffic, aircraft noise, environmental threats, the need for comprehensive planning, and retention of attractive characteristics.
Before the interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, HATS annually hosted conversations with the CEO of Massport, the commander of the 66th Air Base Group, and state senators and representatives from the region.
Discussion topics ranged from retention of the Air Force Base and the footprint of Hanscom Field to regional traffic, housing, business, and agricultural issues.