The Select Board meeting opened with public comment from Karen Janowski. She spoke to the embroidery event that was taking place at the public library this week. She highlighted the offensive content that was discovered on the presenter’s website and social media and spoke to the lack of inclusion of this event and that this should not have been sponsored by a public facility and funded with taxpayer dollars. She also noted that public officials, specifically mentioning Sudeshna Chatterjee, Reading’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, should be more prudent in screening public speakers and focusing on those who are inclusionary to all populations in Reading, and that represent the best of Reading. Board member Chris Haley then responded to Ms. Janowski’s comments, calling out that before every Select Board meeting, Chair Mark Dockser, often quotes that there should be no disparaging comments, and this event contradicts that.
Jackie McCarthy then started liaison reports, referring that she and Karen Herrick attended a training facilitated by the State to learn about funding and informational resources available through the state, as well as an overview of municipal law and open meeting law. She stated that based on her learnings, that Reading is fortunate to have seasoned Town Hall leadership and staff with many years of knowledge, which puts Reading ahead of other communities. She also attended the finance committee meeting, with Ed Ross recently re-appointed as chair and Jeanne Borawski as vice chair with the recent reorganization and assigned Marianne Downing and Ed Ross as Select Board liaisons. The Board of Health now is posting information on Monkeypox on the town website and noted there would be a vaccination clinic on August 11th at Killam School, and a save the date for a remembrance and recovery event hosted by the Coalition on September 28th at 6pm. She concluded with the YMCA is offering free Zumba classes on the common on Thursday evenings at 6PM.
Karen Herrick spoke next about the electric car show event sponsored by the RMLD in Wilmington from 10-1 this Sunday. Also, RMLD has added new rebates to encourage electrification. Conservation and Trails worked with Next Step ministries to finish painting Mattera Cabin and building 150 feet of walkway. Karen attended Reading climate advisory committee and spoke to the event at Maillet, Sommes & Morgan Land, and an initiative to not utilize polystyrene in town. Council on Aging was excited to hear more about the RFP for the Walgreen’s property. And Karen ended her public comment by speaking to RHC event on August 19th.
Chris Haley was next, and spoke to RMLD future social media engagement, indicated that he would be in attendance of the electric car show in Wilmington, and praised the staff at RCTV regarding their theater camp. And finally, Chris has decided to donate the funds from the dunk tank at the Reading Fall Street Faire to the Reading Rotary and the owners of Rough and Ready Dog Groomers, whose owner recently suffered a stroke.
Carlo Bacci spoke to the CPDC meeting and spoke to the work that Public Kitchen is doing to open in September. In addition, 128 Tire plans have been delayed, and the staff at CPDC will be working on brewery, distillery and winery bylaws that may be presented at April town meeting.
Mark Dockser spoke about the Maillet, Sommes & Morgan Land property and the delegation, highlighting Congressman Seth Moulton’s participation. Mark also spoke to the future RECALC meeting, and a few different groups have come to the RAC regarding request for funds for a few different projects, including the water tower.
Lastly, Town Manager Fidel Maltez, spoke regarding the cooling stations that were opened at the senior center and the library in response to the heat. He also called out Seth Moulton’s presence, and that the Board should be made aware regarding the approval of a $2.1 million dollar grant from the State shortly, and by the end of October for the additional $1.5 million dollar grant. Chipping away at FY 2024 budget, noting that capital costs are through the roof, and that FINCOM maintains an additional .5 funding to the 5% approved for FY 23 and 22. Also, planning for Town Meeting in November is underway, with the large agenda item being the $2.2 million dollar request for funding for the Killam school. Housing production plan was kicked off to maintain state regulation requirements, and another beer garden is scheduled for August 20th, with an Oktoberfest event planned for October 15th on the horizon.
Veterans Services Officer William Valliere spoke next, expressing gratitude for his appointment and the opportunity to serve the Reading veterans and their families. He joined the Air Force at a young age and served for 29 years.
Next, the Director of the Reading Coalition Erica McNamara was up to the podium and introduced her staff. Krystal Mellonakos, Outreach Coordinator, Taunya Jarzyniecki, Public Safety Clinician, and interns Megan Rienzo and Ally Brown, as well as the 24 stakeholders on the Advisory Board. They spoke to the vision of the coalition, their strategic prevention framework, their goals, strategies, output, as well as the Mental Health First Aid program and several other initiatives around substance abuse awareness and reduction, as well as first responder follow up and domestic violence services. In addition, efforts that the public safety clinician participates in regarding hoarding and mental health support. She also spoke to the Reading recovery and remembrance event scheduled for 9/28 from 6pm to 7:30 pm at the Reading Town Common.
Town Clerk, Laure Gemme, spoke next regarding VOTES Legislation and Vote to Designate the Town Clerk and Chief of Police to determine the number of officers at the polling location, which the legislature determined should be the decision of the Select Board. Laura requested that the decision be handed over to the Town Clerk and Chief Clark and staff, either on an annual/scheduled basis or on a permanent basis. The Select Board agreed 5-0, and to review and reapprove every two years (even years) in January. The warrant for the State Primary Election was then closed.
A public meeting then opened regarding the vote on Parking Regulation Changes, including electric vehicle restrictions, without attendance. The Public hearing was then closed, 5-0.
The Select Board then deliberated on the following amendments:
- No person shall park a vehicle between the hours of 6:00 AM to 9:30 AM on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays on any of the streets or parts of streets to which this Article has been applied as listed under Article 12.
- To allow Electric Vehicle Parking Only spaces while actively charging within the Town of Reading.
- Streets to be amended: Ash St and Lincoln Street to allow Electric Vehicle Parking Only spaces within these streets. Also, within the Reading Public Library municipal parking lot.
Select Board voted 5-0 to enact the amendments.
Next was the Proclamation Honoring the Life and Legacy of Bill Russell. The Board decided to a press release to honor his legacy, and in the future designate a Bill Russell Day and plan a town wide celebration as we approach the one-year anniversary of his death or birthday. Jackie would like to open an opportunity to learn from Bill Russell’s legacy, and support using his example to learn from his values. A motion was put forth, and the Select Board voted 5-0.
The Select Board Voted 5-0 to approve MWRA $1.5 million interest free loan for the Lead Line Replacement Program, voted 5-0 to approve $5500 budget for Conservation Commission to cover signage and other initiatives. Voted 5-0 to approve Trail Easement for Conservation Commission at 269 Main Street, voted 5-0 for Easement Requests on Lilah Lane, Voted 5-0 for Easement Requests on 369 Main Street Water Line.
Next was discussion regarding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Special Act and Bylaw for November Town Meeting. Ivria spoke to her conversations with Jackie and the following was suggested to the Board: Five is the total of members suggested to develop the board, and folks who can serve should have a background in finance, real estate, affordable housing, or law with Select Board having the authority to appoint any member as they see fit. The Board voted 5-0 to the amendment and this will be put in front of Town Meeting in November.
The Select Board then voted 5-0 to discuss and potentially act on a response to Request for Proposals (RFP) for Lease of Space for a Senior Center, and issuance of an RFP for Lease-to-Buy Option and/or Buy Option for Space for a Senior Center. This would provide the Select Board to pursue all potential options for a Senior Center.
The Select Board then discussed future agenda items, approved meeting minutes, and adjourned at 10:20pm.