Senator John Kerry today applauded the final agreement being signed tomorrow between the United States Navy and the South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation ("Tri-Town") to purchase the former naval air station in South Weymouth, MA.
"Good things come to those who don't wait but negotiate, and in this case it's going to mean jobs and economic development. A lot of sweat equity from a lot of us went into this success story. We had to stay focused on the finish line even when people said it couldn't get done. This day is more than 13 years in the making, and I'm as happy about this final agreement as any tough negotiation I've experienced in 26 years in the Senate," said Sen. Kerry. "This is the culmination of years of hard work. Our folks went to work, put their heads down, stayed at the table, and refused to give up until we made something happen. We wouldn't have made the progress we did year after year without Ted Kennedy and Bill Delahunt, and recently Bill Keating, by my side. This could've died dozens of times but we all kept it alive. It's a huge win for Weymouth, Rockland, and Abington, and the entire South Shore. This is a gigantic step forward."
Since 1998, Senator Kerry has partnered with South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation to redevelop SouthField on behalf of the towns of Abington, Rockland and Weymouth. Tri-Town's Reuse Plan for the former naval air station was approved by the Navy in 1999 but rejected in 2001 by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA), citing Clean Air Act non-compliance and urging the project to better reflect smart growth and sustainable development principles. Kerry, along with the late-Senator Kennedy and former Congressman Bill Delahunt, secured additional time from the Navy for the towns to redevelop their plan as well as secured the first 324 acres of SouthField from the navy at no cost to Massachusetts in 2003.
Kerry ushered the project through land reappraisals and base closing policy changes during the Bush Administration and helped secure EOEA approval of the new Reuse Plan in 2008.
In the face of economic uncertainty and a real estate market crash, the final hurdle was negotiating a fair price for the remaining land from the Navy. Through several phone calls and meetings between Senator Kerry, Congressman Bill Keating, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, as well as meetings on-site and at the Pentagon, an agreement was struck on August 31, 2011 at final price of $25 million, finally securing lands for the South Shore that will create jobs, provide economic opportunity, and ensure environmental sustainability for future generations. The final agreement to transfer the land will be signed tomorrow.