Reading, MA — The Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 to set the water and sewer rates for Fiscal Year 2019 at $10 per 100 cubic feet for water and $10.17 per 100 cubic feet for sewer. These are the same as the rates for FY 2018. This decision was possible due to $4-5 million in water/sewer reserve funds that are currently available. These reserves are held to pay for unbudgeted emergency repairs that may occur during the year. Town Manager Robert LeLacheur stated that the level of water and sewer reserve funds would be comparable to the town having $80 million in free cash reserves. The board did raise the stormwater charge from $40 annually per household to $60 annually per household. This is in anticipation of repair needs that could be in excess of $9 million in the next few years.
The board voted 5-0 to approve a plan to provide a 39-foot on-street loading zone on Sanborn Street for the Postmark Square development. The loading zone will replace the current curb cuts that lead into the former post office parking lot. No current on-street parking spaces will be lost.
The selectmen had a long conversation regarding the adoption of an amended article one of their board policies. While the board voted 5-0 to adopt the amended policies, the intent of the board is to look at them more closely in a workshop-style meeting on a Saturday. There was a continued conversation around the timing of board reorganization as well as how to best handle communications to the board in the light of new technology and open meeting laws that have not kept up with how persons communicate in the 21st century.
The Recreation Committee asked the selectmen to affirm its recommendation to allow the Reading Softball Little League (RSLL) to begin to play at the Birch Meadow softball field starting at 9:00 am on three Sundays, April 22, May 6 and May 20. It was noted that several girls would not be able to register to play in the league if the additional hours were not added as there is not enough field space to accommodate them. After much discussion and public input, the board voted 4-0 to approve the change. Selectmen John Halsey, also a member the RSLL board, recused himself from both the discussion and the vote. Selectman Barry Berman and Chair John Arena each made clear that this was a one-time exception to the traditional policy of no organized field use on Sunday mornings in town and that the decision was not to be seen as a precedent. Berman also implored the leagues and Recreation Administrator Genevieve Fiorente to figure out the schedule so that similar action would not be needed next year.
Boghos Properties, the developer of 467 Main Street site of the current Sunoco station, made a presentation about its planned 40R mixed-use building, asking the selectmen to approve three items. The first is allowing a curb cut on Green Street to be 43 feet from the corner instead of the normal 50 feet. The second is to allow for the possibility of sidewalk dining if a food service tenant occupies the commercial space. The third is to accept three proposed on-street parking spaces in front of the building. No vote was taken as a public hearing is required before a decision can be made, although the sense of the board was positive toward all three suggestions. “This is exactly the type of development we were thinking of (when we passed 40R.),” commented Halsey.
The selectmen also approved a name change for Ristorante Pavoratti on Main Street to Zucca Italian Restaurant and Bar; officially recognized four citizens for promotion of the middle school cross country program; received an update about the little league parade planned for April 29, and listened to explanations from the developer of the Reading Village 40B development regarding excessive dust production and unauthorized street closings at the site. Arena suggested that the developer be proactive with communication, establishing a website with updated information and schedules to which residents could be referred when questions arise.
The board adjourned to executive session at 10:45 pm.