Reading, MA — By an acclimation vote of 4-1, Karen Herrick was elected chair of the Select Board for the coming year. Select Board member Carlo Bacci was the only dissenting vote. Select Board member Anne Landry, making the nomination, thanked outgoing chair Mark Dockser for his “leadership and guiding [the board] through this time.” Town Manager Robert LeLacheur chimed in, “No one has any idea how much work there has been for the chair this year.”
As nominations were being made, new Select Board member Christopher Haley moved that board reorganization be postponed until the board is able to meet in person again. Dockser disagreed, stating that there was no way to know when in-person meetings would be able to occur, given that several members have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19. Member Carlo Bacci countered that while the virtual format has worked well for board members, it was not the best for public involvement in the process. The motion to suspend failed 2-3, with only Bacci and Haley voting in favor of the motion.
Before the final vote for chair was taken, Bacci nominated himself for the role. His nomination failed 2-3, again with Bacci and Haley in the affirmative. Herrick, now as chair, nominated Landry for vice-chair, with Bacci again nominating himself. Landry was selected as vice-chair by a vote of 4-1, with Bacci as the dissenting vote. Herrick nominated Dockser as secretary, with Dockser nominating Bacci. Bacci then nominated Haley for the role. Dockser was elected secretary by a vote of 4-1, with Bacci voting dissenting.
LeLacheur shared in his report that there had been a water leak on the third floor of Town Hall, which went unchecked for ten hours due to it occurring on a Friday evening. He described the damage to walls and ceilings as “extensive” and suggested that the public meeting rooms possibly would not be ready for use until July. LeLacheur did indicate that the board could meet in the Reading Memorial High School library if they wanted to meet in person before that time.
By a vote of 5-0, the board approved a change of officer for Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza. By the same vote, it subordinated its right of first refusal for the Cedar Glen development, allowing the owner of the facility to seek a refinancing loan. Jane Kinsella, Director of Public Works, also reported on a new black earth composting option to which residents may subscribe. The town is providing bins and bags for the program. Currently, 214 households have already subscribed.
“It’s going to be a great program for Reading,” Kinsella proclaimed.
The Select Board voted 5-0 to accept the donation of a twelve-acre parcel of land at 102 Haverhill Street for conservation purposes. Conservation Administrator Charles Tirone called the parcel a “significant addition” to the Timberneck Swamp Conservation area it currently abuts. He explained that conserving the land would help protect Walkers Brook and would add to the town’s open space inventory. The Conservation Commission will oversee the parcel.
Human Resources Director Sean Donahue updated the board on hiring activities through the pandemic and a project underway to update the town’s personnel policies, which have not been reviewed since 2009. Some areas of possible change are the inclusion of language for updated labor and employment laws, a section on the use of technology and remote work, updates to vacation policy, and the inclusion of newer holidays. Once the work is completed, the board will hold a public hearing on the updates before voting on the new policies. The board also reviewed progress being made on the Town Manager’s goals for the current fiscal year.
The Select Board adjourned to executive session at 10:30 pm.