Dockser to Chair Select Board

Reading, MA — By a vote of 4-1, Mark Dockser was elected chair of the Select Board on March 17. After nominating Dockser for the position, member Anne Landry stated that she is “confident that Dockser will bring a steady hand to the leadership of the board” and that he would be “committed to keeping the board accountable to residents.” New member Carlo Bacci was the sole dissenting vote, having nominated Landry for the role. Landry declined stating that outside commitments would prevent her from assuming the duties of chair. The board voted 5-0 to appoint Landry as vice-chair and 5-0 to appoint Bacci as secretary of the board. Dockser thanked the board for its vote sharing that he looked forward to working closely with everyone. “We need to focus on how to build and rebuild the community,” Dockser stated.

The meeting, in which three members attended by phone and was closed to the public, began with outgoing Chair Vanessa Alvarado recognizing the unsettling times of the past week and urging the public to continue social distancing. She also noted that Town Hall would be closed to the public until March 27 and the public meetings, except for Wednesday’s Finance Committee meeting, will be on hiatus. “We appreciate your patience during this time,” Alvarado said. Both Dockser and Alvarado also welcomed new members Bacci and Karen Gately Herrick to the board.

Town Manager Robert LeLacheur reminded the board that the Incident Command System in town had been activated and that principal leaders were meeting together to oversee town reactions to the situation. He also shared several goals for town staff during this first week of Town Hall closure including:

  1. Departments will be updating their continuity of operations plans.
  2. Restricting access to Town Hall.
  3. Developing plans to use volunteers to assist residents who need assistance.
  4. Develop a communications plan to keep residents informed.
  5. Schedules for cleaning and disinfection buildings.
  6. Tracking overtime and extra expenses in case reimbursement becomes available.
  7. 7. Developing a Human Resources plan for each department.

LeLacheur affirmed that the town government is open and business would continue, though perhaps in a different way than is normal. He also confirmed that the Board of Health will be meeting daily to assess the situation. 

The Select Board received an update from Moderator Alan Foulds on the status of Town Meeting. Foulds said that the legislature is meeting to determine how municipalities may respond to the situation, but at this time, Town Meeting is still scheduled to begin April 27.

Landry reported that, after discussion, the Library Board of Trustees has asked the Human Rights Ad-Hoc for a more developed proposal for a Human Rights organization in town before it will take that task upon itself. Landry reminded the board that the Ad-Hoc committee will need some new members as a result of the recent election. Dockser reported that the Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD) Citizens Advisory Board prefers a formula using kilowatt-hour usage to determine its payment to the town, not revenues, as the Select Board was suggesting. The RMLD Board of Commissioners is planning a discussion on the matter at its Thursday, March 19 meeting.

The Select Board voted 5-0 to appoint Sharon Angstrom as Town Accountant for another year; it voted 5-0 to approve a Class II License Application to AutoLux, LLC for a used car business on Minot Road, and it voted 5-0 to accept a gift from Reading Little League Baseball for improvements at Hunt Park and Majors field. The Hunt Park improvements will include a new bathroom to be installed in the snack shack. Any improvements at Majors field will need to fit into the Birch Meadow master plan.

The public hearing on downtown parking changes was continued to April 14 at 8:00 pm, though the board did vote 5-0 to extend the sale of employee stickers and leased parking permits to December 31.

To end the meeting, Bacci asked the board and residents to continue to support local small businesses during the next weeks, as these are most likely to face uncertainty and difficulties.

The Select Board adjourned at 8:15 pm.

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