Debt Exclusion for Reading Library Work May Go to Town Meeting in November
Selectmen review draft of fall Town Meeting warrant.
At this time of year, many thoughts turn to the start of school, from the first day of pre-school to the last months of work toward an advanced degree. It’s also when some Reading residents’ thoughts turn to fall Town Meeting.
The selectmen reviewed a draft Tuesday of warrant articles for fall Town Meeting -- technically Subsequent Town Meeting – which will start Nov. 13. The warrant closes Sept. 25.
One article would authorize a debt exclusion for renovations and an addition to the town library.
Renovations are planned for the library, which was built as an elementary school, Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner pointed out, plus an addition. The library needs space for the children’s room and meeting rooms, according to a Jan. 6, 2011 Patch article.
The project would cost $11.5 million, according to that story. Reading is first on the waiting list for up to $5.1 million in state funding. Town officials are waiting for word from the state. The state Board of Library Commissioners will next meet on Sept. 6, library Director Ruth Urell told Patch earlier this month.
Residents have to vote on a debt exclusion within 90 days of a vote by Town Meeting, Hechenbleikner told the selectmen. The debt exclusion would cost the average taxpayer $100 a year for 10 years, Hechenbleikner said.
Considering those factors, the town might instead hold a special Town Meeting in February, the town manager said, and present the question to voters in April, at the annual town election.
The selectmen will be considering another money issue, according to Selectman Ben Tafoya. The selectmen will meet soon with the School Committee on capital needs for town schools, he said. Town elementary schools are squeezed for space, according to the School Committee, because of new programs and possibly offering all fulll-day kindergarten.
The School Committee is scheduled to meet on Aug. 27 to further discuss the school space issue and to explore modifying the town’s capital plan, which includes $400,000 to buy modular classrooms this fiscal year, which will end on June 30, 2013, as a long-term solution to the space squeeze. The school department could rent modulars, short-term, and use some of the money for a feasibility study for kindergarten and the RISE pre-school program. Among space options, the committee seems to favor building a new early education center for pre-school and kindergarten students on town-owned land on Oakland Road.
Among the draft articles on the warrant for fall Town Meeting, a working group has rewritten the town’s demolition delay bylaw, adding appeals in two parts of the process. Under the proposed bylaw, a property owner could appeal having his or her building placed on a local list of historic structures; the other, when a demolition delay of up to six months is imposed on one of those structures. An appeal of a listing would go to the Reading Historical Commission. An appeal of a demo delay would go to the Board of Selectmen. The selectmen are still discussing whether the latter appeal should go to the Board of Selectmen or the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Other bylaws would:
-- prohibit “medical marijuana dispensaries” in town. The issue is on the ballot in November, Hechenbleikner noted. A number of neighboring communities are looking at that issue, Ruth Clay, Director of the Health Department for Reading, Melrose and Wakefield, told the selectmen. Clay said the health department is doing a lot of education before residents cast their ballots on the question.
-- revise the town’s parking rules and regulations. The town’s Community Development and Planning Commission is working on them.
-- regulate the hours that rubbish and recycling can be collected in commercially-zoned districts.