The Select Board meeting kicked off with visits from Officer Rusty and Officer Cooper, and updates on the impact they have made on the kids in Reading Public Schools and staff, and within the community.
Discussion FY2024 Capital Plan and Process, as well as plans for a Select Board retreat, were pushed to the following Select Board meeting. Liaison reports were next, Chris Haley reported on the School Committee meeting, reporting eleven new hires, and commenting on the energy within the Reading Public Schools prior to the beginning of the school year. He then spoke to the Reading Fall Street Fair on September 11 with the Reading Rotary and the owners of Ruff N Ready Dog grooming that will be supported from the dunk tank efforts. Carlo Bacci was next, and spoke to the RMHS field naming committee, and spoke with the owners of properties behind RMLD regarding the potential plans for RMLD. Jackie McCarthy was next, mentioning early voting hours that are posted on the website, and on Monday 9/12, the CPDC will hold a meeting on the Oakland Road property, and the finance committee’s discussion of the FY2024 capital plan. Jackie also attended a legislative session, speaking to the MBTA community classification, and that Reading has now been classified as an MBTA community. She attended the first housing production plan working group meeting, with a next step being a survey to collect data on the housing market. Karen Herrick spoke to a new food service hire for Reading, and the need for paraprofessionals and substitute teachers in Reading. She spoke to the Killam building committee update, citing 3 ½ years to a new school and preparations to go to Town Meeting for funding for design schematics for the school. September 8th, Killam will be open for viewing for Town Meeting members to view the Killam School. The Parker roof will require another $500k in funding as well. Karen continued with the Senate has approved legislation for Reading to join Green Communities and thanked the Historical Commission Lafayette trail marker project. She ended with speaking about the Craftism event, and how dynamic and engaging it was. Fidel Maltez spoke to the $2.1 million Maillet, Sommes, Morgan conservation area grant, and a change to the affordable housing trust fund, to add an additional member, as well as a draft of the warrant articles for November Town Meeting.
Next was the Reading Police Department Staff Report, planning to support the schools on the first day. They next spoke to new hires and promotions, with three open police officer positions and two open public safety dispatcher positions. Matt Orr, Ian Nelson, and Benjamin Woodward were promoted to sergeant, with Mike Davis joining the police department after academy completion. RPD passed their 4th assessment of re-accreditation. Officer Cooper and Rusty have been busy visiting the senior center and the schools. In addition, Sgt. Pat Silva has been appointed as Civil Rights Officer, working cross functionally with different community groups and members to serve them in any needed capacity. Next was an update on outreach efforts, including school lunchroom takeover and coffee with a cop, high five days, Bicycle Helmet Citations, and the RAD women’s self-defense program, as well as the annual open house and the Special Olympics Cruiser Convoy and various other initiatives within the community. They also introduced the Regional Response Team, the SWAT team, the School Threat Assessment and Response Team, and the Incident Management Team, and spoke about the future of the RPD.
The Reading Select Board then issued a proclamation honoring the service of Sally Hoyt for her volunteer service to the Town of Reading on her 100th birthday. They highlighted her years of selfless accomplishments and community involvement and celebrated her legacy of positive change in the community.
The Board then discussed proposed changes to the Town Personnel Policy, including extending the probationary period for Reading Town employees, the offer extension process, and time off benefits including FMLA and other leave categories. The policies discussed were focused on bringing town policies up to speed with current employment laws.
Continuing, the Select Board voted unanimously to approve an adjustment in pay-grade to and approved hiring a new Town Treasurer, Diane Morabito, at Grade J step 11. Fidel then spoke to the housing production plan, and Jackie volunteered to be the liaison for the board. The Board then discusses the Town Manager priorities, including the Birch Meadow project, the new Killam School, and the RISE preschool project as well as a proposed parking garage study. Many of the initiatives on the capital plan will be presented to Town Meeting on the November warrant.
The Reading Climate Advisory Committee, represented by David Zeek, then spoke to a proposed Polystyrene Bylaw; specifically, banning the use of foam and rigid polystyrene from food services establishments. He cited that it is a possible carcinogen, that it harms wildlife, and is non-biodegradable. They proposed replacing with paper/cardboard, foil, plant-based materials and compostable containers. Chris Haley spoke to the concerns regarding the strain on businesses to have to make this change and questioned why certain establishments like grocery stores would be exempt from this ban. Carlo echoed Chris’s concerns, citing the cost on these businesses to make this change, and this being the worst possible time to do so. This will go before Town Meeting in November.
Fidel then spoke of his time as Reading’s new Town Manager, and his accomplishments in earning the trust of the staff and community, building relationships with the schools, and his involvement in economic development and infrastructure over the past 6 months. Chris, Carlo, Karen, and Jackie sang Fidel’s’ praises, citing positive town feedback on this time thus far.
Next Jackie spoke to the VASC Report and Vote on Volunteer Appointments. Jackie and Chris interviewed several more community members for more volunteer opportunities. They then voted unanimously to vote four appointees to different boards and communities as follows:
- Sally Hilgendorff to an associate position on the Board of Cemetery Trustees with a term expiring June 30, 2024
- William Hughes to an associate position on the Town Forest Committee with a term expiring June 30, 2024
- Annemieke Rice to an associate position on the Cultural Council with a term expiring June 30, 2024
- Walter Talbot to a full position on the Climate Advisory Committee with a term expiring June 30, 2023
The Board wrapped up the meeting by discussing the upcoming State Legislation visit on September 13th, future agenda items, and postponed meeting minutes until the next week.