After Long Executive Session, Select Board Closes Town Meeting Warrant

Reading, MA — The March 2 Select Board meeting reconvened after a two-hour and forty-five-minute executive session regarding litigation strategy related to 59 Middlesex Avenue and the officer-involved shooting.

The board voted 5-0 to close the warrant for Town Meeting, slated to begin on April 26. Town Manager Robert LeLacheur stated that he expects Town Meeting to last three nights.

The town meeting warrant has 20 articles on which members will be asked to vote, including zoning bylaw changes dealing with outdoor dining, approving $3 million of debt authorization to repair the stadium turf and track at Reading Memorial High School, $2.5 million of debt to repair the roof at Parker Middle School, and the Fiscal Year 2022 municipal and school department budgets. The Finance Committee, which has been meeting regarding the budget, intends to vote on its budget recommendations on March 17.

Select Board Chair, Mark Dockser

The Select Board also voted 5-0 to approve a remote Town Meeting for April 26 per Moderator Alan Foulds’ recommendation. According to Foulds, the format will be similar to the two previous remote Town Meetings, with the Performing Arts Center (PAC) available to those who need it. Foulds reported that six members had used the PAC in the past. “We don’t want to disenfranchise anyone,” Foulds commented.

Town Clerk Laura Gemme updated the board on plans for the April 6 election. “Currently, the way to vote is in-person, or by absentee,” Gemme shared while reporting that the Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a bill extending the allowance of mail-in voting through June 30. The expiration of the current provision is March 31. The Senate will now take up the matter. If the bill is approved by the Senate and signed by the governor before March 10, the clerk’s office will send postcards to all registered voters to inform them of the option of mail-in voting. If the bill’s passage is later than the 10th, Reading residents will be notified through social media and other similar platforms.

The Reading Post will continue to update readers on the status of mail-in voting for the April 6 local election.

By a vote of 5-0, the board declared the Maillet Land off Lowell Street and Willow Street to be “no longer needed for general purposes,” opening the option of transferring the property to the control of the Conservation Commission. Warrant Article 17 at April Town Meeting will ask Town Meeting to approve this transfer.

The Select Board voted 5-0 to approve a “$10 million for $12 million” debt authorization for six water/sewer/stormwater projects in town. It also approved a $260,000 loan from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

The Select Board also voted 3-0-1 to send a letter to the Reading Municipal Light Department supporting its seeking of a grant to install electric vehicle charging stations in four town-owned parking areas. One of those, the public library parking lot, will also require support from the Library Board of Trustees.

The Select Board adjourned just before 11:00 pm.

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