Select Board Endorses Camp Rice Moody Transfer

Land Transfer

Reading, MA — By a vote of 5-0, the Select Board voted to authorize Town Manager Fidel Maltez to support the work needed to transfer Camp Rice Moody to the Girls Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. This property has been used by Girl Scouts and others for passive recreation opportunities for the past fifty years and is owned by the Reading Council for Girls, which will soon be dissolved. Select Board member Karen Herrick said that in a conversation, Camp Director Renée Doucette shared with her that, in effect, the Girls Scout has been managing the property since 1980.

The Girl Scouts will continue to use the property for recreational purposes, and the camp directors are looking forward to the upcoming camp season. The transfer document also outlines a provision for the town to obtain the camp in the unlikely event that the Girl Scouts are unable or unwilling to maintain the property.

Symonds Way

The Board spent considerable time reviewing a proposal to establish an exploratory committee for using the former Zanni property on Symonds Way. Chair Mark Dockser recommended several changes to the charge document, including the committee should be presenting several options to the Select Board, not just one, and that the committee’s work needs to dovetail with that of the Reading Center for Active Living Committee (ReCALC), and that the primary consideration for the committee needs to be how best to serve the community. There was general agreement on these changes.

Still at issue is the makeup of the committee and the start date for its work. Members Christopher Haley and Carlo Bacci expressed the opinion that a member of the Finance Committee should be appointed to the committee. Dockser countered that the Finance Committee had no purpose on the committee and would play a role later in the process when choices had been made, and funding for studies and other concrete plans were needed. There was also conversation around the addition of an at-large community member.

Dockser expressed concern that the committee’s work should not begin too soon to avoid conflict with the work of the ReCALC, which is expecting to deliver a recommendation in March of 2023. Dockser indicated that he supports a start date in December as a compromise date. Haley shared frustration with a six-month delay. “I’m tired of seeing things moved down the road,” Haley stated. Bacci agreed with Haley and suggested a September start date.

Dockser countered with his opinion that waiting six months would have no impact whatsoever on the new committee’s work. Select Board member Jackie McCarthy agreed that the community needs to be able to look at multiple projects at the same time but also stated the opinion that these projects need to be considered through a holistic approach. McCarthy also noted that several projects were already being considered in town, such as Birch Meadow, Oakland Road, Killam School, and the center for healthy living.

Emily Sisson, a member of the Recreation Committee, shared Dockser’s concern about confusing the work of the two committees. “If we have two simultaneous committees assessing similar things, one of those committees will end up wasting its time if we end up with priorities that are at odds,” Sisson opined.

The Board will continue its discussion on the issue at its June 28 meeting.

Other Business

The Select Board voted 5-0 to approve a change of manager for Bertucci’s restaurant; it voted 5-0 to endorse the Open Space and Recreation plan presented to the board on May 31 and voted 5-0 for a sunset date of June 30, 2022, for the Human Relations Advisory Committee.

The Select Board also voted 5-0 to approve a budget request of $1,500 for the Historical Commission, a budget request of $3,000 for the Trails Committee, and a budget request of $5,000 for the Town Forest Committee. Much of the Town Forest Committee’s funding will be for removing dangerous red pine trees.

The board received a brief tax classification presentation from Assessor Victor Santaniello, which described the tax impact of creating a split tax rate for commercial and residential properties. Maltez, in his report, also shared that the town has received a $192,000 grant for additional fiber installation in town. He also shared that Reading should receive $58,000 from the opioid settlement, which will provide a stream of funding for the work of the Coalition for Prevention and Support.

The Select Board adjourned at 9:45 pm.

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