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State of Reading: ‘Excellent,’ Selectmen Chairman Says

Two volunteers received selectmen’s first Community Service award.

Think about this. The only constant is change. Stephen Goldy, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, challenged Town Meeting to "embrace change" in his state of the town report Monday night.

The state of the town is ”excellent,” Goldy said. Reading was recently named America’s fourth best suburb, he said, quoting from an article whose source he did not name: “a family-friendly, white-collar town” with public schools better than “98 percent of all US communities” and "87 percent of schools in the rest of the state.”

Financially, “(T)he town’s fiscal health is good,” Goldy said. Among the five highlights he cited:

Some town services were restructured, “with little if any loss of service to the customers.” Public health services were regionalized with Melrose and Wakefield and several others – elder and human services, plumbing, gas and wiring inspections and conservation were “right size(d).” Regionalizing several town services – for veterans, inspections, public safety dispatch and conservation – are being considered.

The town received new grants totaling more than $1.6 million.

Building project debt for and  was refinanced, saving $400,000 in tax funds.

Economically, Goldy pointed to a number of new businesses and developments in town: 

Oaktree on Haven Street, at the former Atlantic Supermarket site, a mixed use commercial and residential project is a model, he said, for the Commonwealth’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s Smart Growth development;

He referred to Reading Woods, on the former Addison Wesley Pearson property, a Gateway Smart Growth housing project;

move on south Main Street; and

ECars’ move onto the former Artist Shoppe site on south Main Street.

Service-wise, local government has been restructured, Goldy said, particularly the Community Services Department.

Town staff is implementing licensing and permitting software which, Goldy said, will make tracking development permits and licenses easier.

On the subject of security of safety, “(F)ollowing the shooting death of a resident in Reading and the death of another Reading resident outside of the community, Reading conducted a series of three community dialogues this fall centered around the issue of substance abuse and violence prevention” here. As a result, the fiscal year 2013 budget, for July 1 2012 through June 30, 2013, includes funds "to address these issues through education, treatment and enforcement.”

On the same topic, the Board of Selectmen suspended five liquor licenses, Goldy said, each for three days, for selling alcohol to a minor.

“We expect that this is an anomaly,” he said, “and will not be repeated.”

In infrastructure, the town's 116-year-old library is first on the wait list for a grant, Goldy said. If the grant is approved, both Town Meeting and all residents would need to vote on "a debt exclusion for the town's share of the project cost."

Goldy also began what he hopes will become a tradition. He presented the first Board of Selectmen Service Award to two "outstanding volunteers." The two recipients have more than 70 years of town service between them.

Bob Nordstrand has served for more than 40 years on the Board of Assessors.

Camille Anthony just completed 18 years as a selectman. Before that, she served on the Conservation Commission for 12 years.

Both Nordstrand and Anthony are also members of Town Meeting.

Rob April 25, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Reading is going downhill fast. It doesn't take a genius to see that.
Gordon McIntosh April 25, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Wow Rob! Would you have some examples of that?
pomeroy41144 April 25, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Rampant dug use in the schools that has been ignored for years finally turns violent. Burned out and decrepit building along South Main St that makes the neighborhood look more like the South Bronx. A national employer flees to Burlington taking hundreds of employees with them due to the creativity of that towns Board of Selectman . Skyrocketing water and sewer rates. Property taxes higher than virtually all of Reading's "peer""communities. Yet all is well, matter of fact all is "excellent". May I suggest that fiddles be handed out at the next BOS meeting so these people has something to amuse themselves with
Rob April 25, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Massive housing "projects" being built left and right, with plenty of "affordable" housing.
Dave Miskinis April 25, 2012 at 07:13 PM
If the town's fiscal health is "good," how can the state of the town be "excellent?" Reading is the fourth best suburb in America....and the source was not named? No wonder......the source is a CNBC on-line article by Colleen Kane. I've never heard of her either. #1 = Edmond, OK, #2 = Kensington, MD, #3 = Circle Pines, MN, #4, yours truly and #5 = Poqouson, VA. Powerhouse suburbs for sure. I wonder when Colleen was actually in Reading. If you google her, Colleen's most recent article was titled: "Hot Dog! Meet the World's most Expensive Weenie." I am not kidding. Way to go Mr. Goldy. You must be doing a good job if you say so.
Gordon McIntosh April 25, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Drugs and violence are not unique to Reading. And where are the parents? The burned out building has environmental issues. Maybe
Michelle April 25, 2012 at 07:35 PM
For years people have been illegally dumping all sorts of debris on Causeway Rd on their way out of town. Propane tanks, paint buckets, plaster buckets, you name it. The town didn't do anything about it until the residents got together and made some noise, something they still have to do in order to have the area periodically cleaned up. That experience tells me Reading is not too concerned about the environment, otherwise they would have taken measures to put a stop to it. Instead they asked the state to install cameras which they took down after a couple of months (and all the while people continued to dump). Smoke and mirrors
Karl Weld April 25, 2012 at 07:38 PM
It's rather ironic that Reading imposes water restrictions on summer use, encourages the use of rain barrels, and other conservation measures and then has to raise rates 11% because the town is not selling enough water to cover the fixed costs of belonging to the MWRA. Use less water! (So we can charge you more for the water you do use.) While were at it, since the RMLD Board insists on retiring our RECs AND buying more expensive "green" electricity (even though, as a municipal light dept., we're not required to) we're paying more than we should be for that too.
pomeroy41144 April 25, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Buildings, Gordo, buildings. Been that way for years. What has the BOS done about it ? Have you seen any burned out buildings along RT 28 in Andover, Mass Ave in Lexington ? I have not.
Karl Weld April 25, 2012 at 08:00 PM
A new by law was passed last fall mandating unoccupied property is to be maintained to a certain standard. We'll see how enforcement proceeds. The building in question has been hung up because a creek/stream actually runs right against the rear foundation and underground oil tanks were discovered. Also, I think there was an issue getting things through the seller due to age. That's what we've been hearing at the EDC. Those problems have been resolved and I believe the CPDC has approved the plans for the new cafe to proceed.
Ted Cartwright April 25, 2012 at 09:50 PM
How's this? My family lived there 39 years. Now we can't afford the taxes, so bye-bye !!!
Ted Cartwright April 25, 2012 at 09:53 PM
The fat lady can't sing until someone figures out where to park four cars for a dance school that wants to move into town!
G and D April 26, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Rob good way to come out of the gate. Go to other towns or even better go to another state like NH and you will see what you are missing fast.
G and D April 26, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Wow, it looks like the haters are out in force. Take part in your community if you don't llike. Plant some trees if you want a better view. Cut your lawn every once in awhile. spend some of your tax return money on taking pride in your house and paint it and then maybe you wouldn't complain so much about Reading. My family and I have been to many parts of the USA and trust me Readiing is a breath fo fresh air.

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