Select Board Defers Parking Decision

Proposed Traffic Amendments

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Reading, MA — The Select Board chose not to act on one of the two proposed traffic and parking regulations presented to them last Tuesday. Police Lieutenant Christopher Jones asked the board to consider allowing ten-minute parking on Symonds Way for pickup and drop-off at the Little Treasures Schoolhouse, located at 311 Haverhill Street. The area is currently a no-parking zone, which is often ignored by parents while dropping children off at the daycare facility. 

Lieutenant Christopher Jones

Abutter Ed Donnelly spoke against the plan, noting that Little Treasures has two parking areas that parents can utilize. He also questioned the lack of enforcement of the no parking regulation, stating that he has informed the Police Department of the issue multiple times. Donnelly continued, noting that his primary concern is child safety as toddlers are often in the street as parents deal with other children as there are no sidewalks on that side of the street.

“Children are going to get hurt,” Donnelly added. “It’s only a matter of time.”

Mary Grimmer, owner of Little Treasures, encouraged the board to make the change. “This is not new,” Grimmer stated, sharing that parents have used the area since Little Treasures opened in 2002. She also indicated that the problems shared by Donnelly and others have never been addressed to her by the Police Department. She continued, stating that she had initially wanted to create a larger parking and drop-off area on her property, but the Conservation Commission denied her plans.

Select Board member Mark Dockser suggested that new plans could be drawn up for the site and that the Conservation Commission could be re-approached regarding a drop-off area for the school as a safety issue. Board member Carlo Bacci questioned the lack of enforcement of the current regulations, while Board member Karen Herrick agreed that Symonds Way is not wide enough for parked vehicles. Select Board member Christopher Haley suggested that there were too many unknowns for there to be a vote, and other board members agreed. The Select Board did vote 5-0 to approve the placement of two stop signs at the intersection of Bancroft Avenue and Hartshorn Street.

Lannon, Clark Appointed to Town Manager Screening Committee

Residents for the at-large positions will be selected on November 29

By a vote of 4-1, the Select Board appointed Library Director Amy Lannon and Police Chief David Clark to serve on the Town Manager Screening Committee on Tuesday. Both Lannon and Clark lead town departments, and both are Reading residents. Select Board member Carlo Bacci was the dissenting vote.

Presentation from Elder Affairs on ARPA Update

Genna Fiorente

Community Services Director Genna Fiorente presented how the $900,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds designated for seniors have been used thus far and what the plans are for future use. She noted that $300,000 is being used for a feasibility study for a new or remodeled senior center and that $600,000 had been set aside for programming. New programming includes bus trips, wellness programs, improved accessibility, and meals. One hundred thousand of the $600,000 is being used for staff support. Since funds need to be encumbered by December of 2024, senior center staff are planning for future bus trips and programs, submitting requests for quotes in order to encumber the funds.


RMLD Update

Greg Phipps RMLD General Manager

Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD) General Manager Greg Phipps also presented plans for the future to the board, highlighting RMLD’s core mission to “provide reliable, low cost, no carbon energy” to its constituent towns. Phipps shared that RMLD is getting back into the power generation business as it plans for solar arrays and other forms of power generation.

“There is no silver bullet for us,” Phipps noted as he explained that all avenues for clean power generation are being researched. RMLD has set the goal of having forty percent of its power generated from within its territory by 2040. Concerns about the future state of available power are driving the plans. “It’s a reliability issue,” Phipps stated. 


Community Preservation Act

Community Development Director Ben Cares shared with the board regarding the Community Preservation Act. Adopting this act would allow Reading to adopt a small property tax surcharge for the use of developing open and recreation spaces, historic preservation, and affordable housing. Cares continued stating that exemptions to the surcharge could be created for seniors, low-income households, and commercial properties.

The impetus to create the surcharge is that the state will provide matching funds to what the town raises, Cares explained. A one-percent surcharge would amount to about $84 annually for the average Reading household. Cares also shared that as adoption of the measure requires both a Town Meeting vote and a ballot question for the voters, it is advantageous to have a proposal ready for the November Presidential election.

Dockser questioned the timing of the vote, noting that other large projects are on the horizon, including the Killam Elementary School and a Senior Center. Despite this, Dockser and Herrick urged the board to consider moving forward with a study group to create a proposal.


Affordable Housing Trust Fund

The Select Board also voted 5-0 to support and approve proposed floor amendments to Reading’s request for a home rule petition regarding the Affordable Housing Trust. The amendments strike the first thirteen lines of the petition, as the clauses stated are not in the correct format for Massachusetts General law.

The Select Board adjourned at 10:20 pm.

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