Reading, MA — By a vote of 5-0, the Select Board officially executed a contract with Fidel Maltez to be Reading’s third town manager on Tuesday. Select Board chair Karen Herrick welcomed Maltez to Reading, with Select Board member Anne Landry presenting Maltez with a Reading Rockets ball cap from the board. Several town department heads were present for the vote, welcoming Maltez to Reading. Current town manager Robert LeLacheur, who is scheduled to leave his post at the end of February, will work with Maltez to develop a plan for the transition.
Town Counsel Ivria Fried shared that the planned mediation with resident Walter Tuvell over his open meeting law complaints has been called off by the Attorney General’s office after communication from Tuvell. Fried shared that the Attorney General commented that the board had acted in good faith throughout the mediation discussions. Fried then explained that the board needs to respond to the complaints by January 19. The board authorized Fried to prepare those responses for discussion at the January 18 Select Board meeting.
Member Chris Haley shared that he considered attacks against Fried, the superintendent of schools, and board members to be “unwarranted and disgusting.” Haley continued to share that Tuvall had made a public records request for the student records of Haley’s daughter, which Haley referred to as “totally uncalled for,” and that Superintendent Thomas Milaschewski denied the request. Haley believes this denial was the source of Tuvell’s comments about Milaschewski.
The board spent considerable time in discussion regarding the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. LeLacheur shared a list of eighteen new requests totaling $512,000, which board members had ranked in terms of priority. He then explained that the budget currently has about $50,000 to fund the items on the list. “This is a tough budget,” LeLacheur explained. “The needs and wants of the community are high.” LeLacheur did suggest that there needs to be a better system for receiving requests from boards and committees. LeLacheur also mentioned that some of the “one-time” requests could be presented to April Town Meeting to be funded by the town’s free cash reserves. The request for $50,000 to outsource a housing production plan was mentioned as an example, as the work needs to begin before the FY 2023 budget funding would be available in July.
Given the new information, the board members will reconsider their rankings and submit them to LeLacheur by the beginning of the week.
Select Board member Mark Dockser shared that the town had closed on the “lot 5” property on Grove Street and that the town now owns the lot. A joint meeting will be held with the chairs of the Trails, Town Forest, and Conservation committees to determine what type of request might be made to the Meadowbrook Golf Club for access to a trail to the Town Forest from the lot. Dockser did report that Meadowbrook was receptive to discussing the issue.
The Select Board also voted 5-0 to designate the Hawkes Field House at Reading Memorial High School as the polling place for a January 25 Special Election regarding the Northeast Vocational School expansion project. It voted 5-0 to declare two fire department vehicles as surplus and voted 5-0 to affirm a conservation restriction for 113 Arcadia Avenue.
The Select Board adjourned at 9:17 pm.