Hanscom Air Force Base has been the home to active and retired military personnel since 1942, but it is not often thought of as a part of the Concord community. With Federal cutbacks looming, though, Concord officials are examining the possibility of base members further integrating with the Concord community.
Hanscom, the 10th largest business employer in the state with 4,500 direct employees, is facing planned reductions by the U.S. government. In a letter written to Representative Niki Tsongas this week, Concord Selectman Chair Elise Woodward urged lawmakers to think about how overall cuts to the base would negatively affect the Concord area and beyond.
“The Electronic Systems Center is vital o the nation’s defense, and the 66th Air Base Group provides services to thousands of active duty military personnel and over 100,000 retired personnel,” she wrote.
Though Hanscom geographically resides just past the Concord border, town officials like Selectman Greg Howes argue that many members of the base spend much time in the Concord community.
“At one time,” said Howes, “the idea was to have every base in the country with a supermarket, a golf course and other features, but people (on the base) are now finding that they can be a part of the neighboring town instead.”
Howes said that he recently met with members of the base who explained that any cuts that might take place in coming months would not negatively affect Concord economically.
“Most of what they’re talking about right now are internal social changes,” Howes said.
Howes explained that the base might shutter the on-site bowling alley or discontinue its youth basketball program. Such changes might cause military families to look to Concord youth programs or spend more time at Concord attractions.
Should budget cuts affect more than social programs in the future, though, Woodward is hoping that lawmakers can devise a plan to ensure the life of Hanscom for as long as possible.
“Let’s develop a strategy that will protect the vitality of (Hanscom),” she wrote in the Tsongas letter, “and the quality of life of its personnel and those veterans who have served their country for years to come.”
Tell us what you think of Hanscom and its members. Do you consider the base as a separate community, or do you think of Hanscom personnel as members of Concord, ones who patronize the town and its businesses? Let us know in the comment section below.