When questions were raised about the possible cemetery garage at the Wood End Cemetery, at a recent Selectmen’s Meeting, Board of Selectmen Chair John Halsey suggested that concerned residents should attend a meeting of the Permanent Building Committee (PBC) to express their thoughts. And they did just that. Over twenty abutters and interested residents attended the August 29 PBC meeting at Reading Town Hall.
Residents expressed concerns about the potential placement of a new garage, safety, noise, decreased real estate values, and disruption of the peaceful serenity often associated with visiting the final resting place of loved ones. Additional concern was expressed over not having received formal notification of a possible 5,000 square foot building project abutting their property. Committee member Nancy Twomey was quick to respond that the committee felt it would be better to bring in abutter comments after there was a more concrete plan for design and placement.
Much comment from residents centered around whether or not all options for meeting the space needs of the Cemetery Department had been exhausted. Suggestions included smaller storage units at each cemetery, renting space in or near town, or combining the Cemetery Department with the Department of Public Works into one larger department.
“We were charged with examining sites and a building . . . four sites, and Wood End came out on top.” Committee member Patrick Tompkins stated.
PBC Chair Gregory Stepler noted several times that this group had been given a specific set of parameters in which to work by Town Meeting in order to determine the best location for a new cemetery garage in Reading on land that the town owns.
“Nothing is decided, and the final choice will be with Town Meeting.” Stepler said. The next step the Committee is taking is to hire an Owner’s Project Manager (OPM), to begin the process of site analysis and design.