Select Board Finds Daniels House Tenant “Suitable”

Reading, MA — After a presentation and questions from the board and the public, the Select Board voted 5-0 on June 9 to declare Lowell House, Incorporated as a “suitable tenant to operate a licensed substance treatment program” at the former Daniels House at 59 Middlesex Avenue. According to William Carr, speaking for Lowell House, the organization is a 51-year-old agency which “assists people and their families to rebuild their lives and strengthen communities by providing the resources, direct support, skills and freedom to live a purposeful life in recovery.”

Lowell House intends to open a co-occurring enhanced program for children ages 13 to 17 who have been diagnosed with both a substance disorder as well as a mental health disorder. Lowell House’s Matt Brown was clear that the site will not be a detox facility. The program will be state-contracted and licensed to stabilize the child so that they can return to their family. “It will be closely monitored for quality,” Carr assured the board. It will be the first of its kind in eastern Massachusetts.

During the day, a one-to-three ratio of staff to clients will be maintained, not counting program staff such as counselors, recreation specialists, and education staff. A one-to-five ratio will be maintained in the evening. All doors and windows will be alarmed as students are not allowed to wander off on their own. “No child walks away from the program unescorted,” Diana Newell, Executive Vice President for Integrative Care at Lowell House, shared.

When questioned by abutters regarding clients with violent histories, Newell also stated that “For the most part, we will not have any ‘heavy hitters.” Though she also admitted that due to privacy laws, Lowell House is not allowed to inquire with regards to this type of past history. She also said that students with a history of violence or suicidal tendencies would be hospitalized and not sent to this program.

Carr expects the program to be open no later than January. After the vote, Select Board chair Karen Gately Herrick welcomed Lowell House to town, stating that she looked forward to Lowell House becoming a good neighbor.

The Select Board voted 5-0 to approve a Pride Month resolution and flag raising on the town common. The board also voted 3-2 to move into executive session to vote on collective bargaining agreements and to discuss the Open Meeting Law (OML) complaint filed against the board by Walter Tuvell. 

The complaint concerns how the board handled the removal of an email from their packet that Tuvell claims were attributed to him but that he did not send. It was discussed at the June 1 meeting of the Select Board. Member Christopher Haley stated that he preferred to stay in an open session for the OML discussion, citing transparency as the reason. He argued that the complaint had been discussed already in public and that he believed there was no reason not to continue to do so now. Member Carlo Bacci agreed, and both voted against the motion to go to executive session.

The board returned from executive session after over an hour of deliberation. Herrick shared that the board had instructed town counsel to craft a response to the complaint and that the text of the response would be available in the next Select Board packet. Herrick also said that the board intends to revisit its communication policy.

The Select Board adjourned at 10:17 pm.

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