Select Board Closes Town Meeting Warrant

Twelve Articles on the Docket

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Reading, MA — After a brief review, the Select Board voted 5-0 to close the warrant for the Subsequent Town Meeting, which is scheduled to begin on November 13. The warrant has twelve articles, which includes five articles on items such as reports and amending the current Fiscal Year 2024 budget that are typical for Subsequent Town Meeting. Article six will involve appropriating $2 million in funding for phase two of the Birch Meadow project.

Articles seven through ten are articles regarding various spending approvals, including extra funding for street paving, a Town Forest parking lot on Grove Street, and trash and recycling barrels for all residences in town. Town Manager Fidel Maltez stressed that, after consideration, RFID tags will not be included in the barrels if Town Meeting approves the  purchase. Article twelve is a citizen’s petition requesting funding for temporary pickleball courts to be built behind the Burbank Ice Arena.

Maltez explained that the previous article eleven that he presented at the September 12 Select Board meeting, which would require the clearing of snow from sidewalks in the downtown, has been removed from the warrant. The Bylaw Committee took on the issue after a citizen’s petition warrant article in November of 2022 was indefinitely postponed. Maltez explained that the Bylaw Committee was not yet prepared to submit the article for Town Meeting approval.

Select Board member Christopher Haley questioned the lack of ADA access to the Town Forest from the proposed Grove Street parking lot. Maltez explained that while the lot will have ADA-compliant spaces, the rough terrain in the area made this type of access difficult to construct. Select Board member Mark Dockser added that the Trails Committee had suggested that ADA access to the forest would be better accomplished at the Wood End entrance to the Town Forest.

While approving the visibility to the issue article twelve brings to the need for pickleball courts in town, Dockser also noted his concern regarding spending $200,000. At the same time, there are continued discussions regarding the use of the entire Symonds Way parcel underway. He also shared concerns about the project, working through the various committees to get the right approvals for construction. “Because it is a citizen’s petition, it goes [on the warrant] as is,” Dockser stated. “We have comments, but we cannot change it; it goes exactly as is.”

Community Preservation Act

Chase Mack, Communications Director for the Community Preservation Coalition, shared a brief presentation explaining the Community Preservation Act (CPA) to the board. The law, enacted in 2000, allows communities to create a dedicated revenue source for the purpose of open space, outdoor recreation, historic preservation, and affordable housing. Mack shared that 195 communities in Massachusetts have adopted the CPA, with all having yet to revoke acceptance.


The CPA generates revenue through an up to three percent surcharge on property taxes added to a percentage match from the state. The percentage match has averaged 36.5% over the last several years. For example, Mack said that if the town raised $100,000 in revenue through the surcharge, the match from the state would have been $36,500. He continued to suggest that a 1% to 1.5% surcharge seems to be the “sweet spot” for most communities.

Mack added that communities can accept certain exemptions, including the first $100,000 of assessed value and exemptions for low-income families and moderate-income seniors. He said that for a home with a $400,000 assessed value, the surcharge at 1% would equal about $50 annually.

Mack concluded by suggesting that if the Select Board wishes to move forward, a study group should be formed to develop a proposal for April Town Meeting. If Town Meeting approves the proposal, then the acceptance of the CPA could be on a town-wide ballot for the November 2024 election.

Reading Food Pantry ARPA Funds

The Select Board voted 5-0 to reallocate $28,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funding to be awarded to the Reading Food Pantry to continue its gift card program for an additional ten months. This will give the Food Pantry board time to organize fundraising efforts as well as apply for grant funding. Maltez suggested that $15,000 of the funds could be used from the previously allocated for COVID-19 mitigation. Additionally, there is $16,966 remaining from the funds earmarked for due diligence of Walgreen’s property on Harnden Street, the purchase of which is no longer under consideration.


The board voted 5-0 to approve Recreation Administrator Jim Sullivan’s second position in town, specifically work helping with athletic events for the Reading Public Schools. The board also voted 5-0 to designate the Town Manager as the town representative to the designer selection committee for the Killam Elementary School project. Brian Kimerer reported to the board regarding the twenty-six arts projects the Reading Cultural Council funded in 2023.

Maltez Finalist for Chelsea City Manager

Reading Town Manager Fidel Maltez – Photo by Kenan Cooper

The meeting opened with Select Board chair Jackie McCarthy noting that Maltez is a finalist for the position of City Manager in Chelsea, as reported by the Post.

Restaurant for Old Post Office Not Moving Forward

Common District Meeting House received approval for a liquor license in May of 2021

Maltez shared in his report that Reading has received a $2.3 million Mass Works grant to partially fund improvements on Haven Street. Select Board member Carlo Bacci also noted that the Common District Meeting House restaurant proposed for the Post Office Square building on Haven Street will not be moving forward.

The Select Board adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

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