Reading MA — Members of the Select Board gave thanks to outgoing Town Manager Robert LeLacheur on February 15. It was LeLacheur’s last Select Board meeting as Town Manager. Select Board member Anne Landry thanked LeLacheur for the town’s solid financial position that made Reading look attractive to a strong pool of candidates. Member Carlo Bacci stated, “I have had the privilege of working with one of the best town managers in the state.”
Incoming Town Manager Fidel Maltez, a participant in the meeting, added, “I cannot think of a better man to take the baton from.” LeLacheur wished Maltez well. “Don’t worry about my shoes; your shoes are good enough,” LeLacheur shared.
Maltez reported on the transition between town managers highlighting that LeLacheur has “handed him a finished budget document.” In addition to “keeping the lights on,” Maltez shared that the top priorities as he begins his role will be to focus on the Finance Committee budget meetings in March and preparation for Town Meeting in April. The Select Board will work with Maltez on setting goals after he has been in the role for 60 days.
The Select Board voted 5-0 to accept a donation from Reading Girls Softball League for a scoreboard on the field at Sturges Park. League president Bob Hayes presented an overview of the design for the scoreboard, which will be placed in deep right field. Hayes reported that permits for the work have already been acquired. Hayes also shared that 382 girls are already signed up for the league this year.
The board voted 5-0 to approve a traffic amendment allowing overnight parking in 35 spaces at the train station during snow emergencies. The plan was presented to the board at its last meeting by the Parking, Traffic, and Transportation Task Force as a means to help alleviate parking issues in the downtown when overnight snow removal is needed.
LeLacheur walked the board through 19 possible Town Meeting warrant articles, including article eleven, which would establish a community garden revolving fund; article 15, which is a 20-page set of zoning bylaw amendments related to the 40R smart growth district; and article 19, which is the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. LeLacheur reminded the board that the warrant needs to be closed by March 1.
LeLacheur also reviewed water, sewer, and stormwater rates for the coming year with the board. He reported that recent water main breaks are “chewing through a lot of resources.” LeLacheur continued, sharing that the water mains on Walkers Brook Drive are narrower than had been previously reported and could require just under $1 million in repairs over the next couple of years. Without using water reserves to defray costs, there could be a 25% increase in water rates next year. Using $1 million in reserves would still result in a 10.8% increase in rates. The board typically sets the rates in April.
Director of Human Resources Sean Donahue reported to the Select Board on efforts to update the town’s personnel policies addressing issues such as the “Reading Rebound,” when employees leave the town’s employ only to return after a short period of time as well as other concerns. Donahue expects an initial draft for the board to review by August.
The Board also voted 5-0 to approve a change in Meadowbrook Golf Club’s all-alcohol license, moving the license from the temporary tent they have been using to the newly rebuilt clubhouse. Attorney Brian McGrail, speaking for Meadowbrook, reported that the new clubhouse is expected to open around April 1.
The Select Board adjourned to executive session at 10:20 pm.