Depending on who you ask, Birch Meadow Phase 1 started back in 2007 or as Town Meeting Member Bill Brown pointed out last night, it was in the 1930’s instead. The end result is the same, a longtime project consisting of multiple phases, is finally moving forward via a 134-2 vote on Article 14.
Back in September of 2022, the Reading Select Board approved the Reading ARPA Advisory Committee’s recommendation of $1,500,000 to fund phase 1 of the Birch Meadow Master Plan. What transpired in the months afterwards though, was the project was required to go out to bid. The town received multiple bids but due to inflation and supply chain issues, they came in close to double their original estimates for the cost of the bathroom pavilion portion. That left the town with two options, to proceed with only the new central spine pathway, parking lot (55 spaces in the old Imagination Station) and lacrosse wall portion or to find a creative way to pay for the $1 million plus pavilion overage.
The Finance Committee recommend that the town use funding sources other than Free Cash for this project and below is the table that was used to pull the missing funds from.
- $600,000 from the Parker Middle Roof Project. The town received multiple competitive bids and had a surplus budgeted for this item.
- $180,000 from the Police Station Renovation Roof Project. This project is now completed and
has a remaining balance.
- $440,000 from the 40R District Incentive/Bonus Payments from the Commonwealth. The incentive payments can only be used for capital projects such as Birch Meadow Phase 1 as an example.
Multiple Town Meeting members praised town staff for their longtime work on the project, including Community Services Director Jenna Fiorente, who started out as an intern back in 2007 when Birch Meadow Phase 1 was in it’s infancy. Town Manager Fidel Maltez expects work to start on the project in the Summer after school is out and sporting events should see little to no impact.
Onward to Phase 2.
*4/28 11pm edit: No fields will be lost during Phase 1 as it was mentioned during last nights meeting. Possibly during Phase 2, a field may be lost but added to Coolidge but that is 5-10 years away and by no means final. The storage bunker was also brought up and Joe Huggins, Director of Facilities, will be constructing a temporary one.