Maltez Reflects on First Year as Town Manager

Reading Town Manager Fidel Maltez – Photos by Kenan Cooper

Reading, MA — With his first annual Select Board review on the horizon, Town Manager Fidel Maltez has paused to assess the past year’s accomplishments and look ahead at his priorities for the coming year. Maltez highlighted three major accomplishments for 2022, starting with the process to distribute the $7.5 million the town received in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. He praised the community outreach performed by the ARPA Recommendation Committee as well as the thoughtfulness of the groups who applied for funding. Projects such as $2 million for a new literacy curriculum, $1.5 million in water and sewer improvements, pandemic premium pay for front-line staff, and the funding of the first stage of the Birch Meadow Master plan was a part of what was approved for the ARPA funds. “It was an excellent model that we should use in the future,” Maltez commented.

Maltez at the Maillet-Sommes-Morgan Conservation land – Photo by Kenan Cooper

Maltez also noted the progress made during 2022 for the Maillet-Sommes-Morgan Conservation land updates. The town secured a combined $4.1 million in funding for the project from state and federal resources which will transform what Maltez referred to as “a diamond in the rough” into a park that will be able to be enjoyed by residents for many years into the future. Improvements will also help prevent flooding in the Willow Street area as well as regionally in the Mystic Valley Watershed. Additional funds, approved by Town Meeting, may also be used to repair a sediment-filled culvert on Willow Street and for additional shade and other passive recreational structures. When speaking about the process of obtaining the outside grants, Maltez promised that town staff will continue to “do everything in our power to keep chasing funds.”

Maltez in the Select Board – Photo by Kenan Cooper

Maltez also shared that all filing deadlines for possible Massachusetts School Building Authority funding of the proposed Killam Elementary School project have been accomplished ahead of schedule. For 2023, Maltez looks forward to the community discussion around the next phase of the Killam project. “It will be a real balancing act to build a school we desire and one we can afford,” Maltez noted. 

The number of community events that have started to bring people back together has also been a highlight for Maltez. These events include the beer gardens on the common, the Fall Street Faire, the common tree and menorah lighting ceremonies, and several others. Additional accomplishments Maltez noted include the conclusion and adoption of the pay and class study and a new town website. As he has reached out during the year to get to know residents in town, Maltez described the warm reception he has received as a “real testament to our community.”

Maltez and daughter at “Skatoberfest” – Photo by Kenan Cooper
Maltez in the dunk tank at the Reading Fall Street Fair – Photo by Kenan Cooper

In 2023, Maltez is looking forward to the completion of the Auburn Street water tower project this coming summer. He indicated that Verizon should be one of the carriers with an antenna on the new tower, which he hopes will ease resident concerns regarding cell coverage in town. Maltez also shared that design of the small adjacent park will be a public process once the tower is operational. The downtown water main project, which has replaced the 100-year-old water and gas lines on Main Street and Haven Street, is also expected to be completed this spring.

Winter and spring of 2023 will also bring the beginning of the work of the Symonds Way Exploratory Committee, which Maltez explained will be a public and transparent process. Also coming this year will be establishing a new Affordable Housing Trust Board, working towards MBTA communities compliance, and discussing trash removal contracts. 

Maltez presented longtime Reading resident Sally Hoyt with a special proclamation for her 100th Birthday

Town staff will be working on a new streetscape design for lower Haven Street and seeking funding for the project, one that Maltez suggested could be “transformational” to the area. While discussing the issue, Maltez indicated that former Governor Charlie Baker signed a transportation bill that included $3.5 million to bond for the Haven Street project. He also indicated that grant money from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation might be available. Maltez continued, sharing that grant money could be available for several projects in town and that it is his role to “advocate [for it] and get in somebody’s ear.”

Maltez at the Reading Town Common Recovery and Remembrance Event

“[Reading] is in a very strong financial position,” Maltez reports. “The future continues to be bright.”

Maltez added, “I would like to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to outgoing Town Manager Bob LeLacheur for all of his support during my transition and all of the mentoring he has given me this first year. Bob has been an invaluable resource and has answered many calls and emails, providing much-needed background and information this first year.”

Maltez concluded in a self-assessment document for the Select Board that he shared with The Reading Post, stating, “this has been an exciting year with a lot of accomplishments, but also a lot of challenges. The Town of Reading also has significant opportunities to pursue in this coming year. I look forward to working with the Select Board on achieving our goals for this coming year.” 

The Select Board will complete its public review of the Town Manager at its January 24 meeting.

Maltez in front of Reading Town Hall – Photo by Kenan Cooper
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