Published in the September 28, 2017 edition


NORTH READING — Let the games begin! The starting gun for the October Town Meeting will sound at 7 p.m. sharp in the Daniel H. Shay Performing Arts Center at NRHS.

The 19-article warrant is shaping up to be an interesting one, with voters being asked to make the decisions that may very well determine whether the town’s residents continue to obtain their water from Andover or to continue down the path toward joining the MWRA.

Whichever direction the voters direct the Board of Selectmen to pursue will affect the source of the town’s drinking water at least until the Batchelder School prepares to celebrate its 200th birthday.

For those residents concerned about the extra distance it takes to get to the Performing Arts Center in comparison to the auditorium at the old school, the town has established a plan to allow senior citizens and those with disabilities to use designated temporary handicapped parking spots that will be set up near the high school’s front entrance. This makes it a much shorter walk to the auditorium than entering from the gymnasium entrance off the rear lot.

Articles of special note include 10 through 19:

Article 10 – Appropriate Funds for Study and Design of Water/Wastewater Connection. This article seeks $325,000 to evaluate water and wastewater alternatives, including but not limited to the town of Andover.

Article 11 – Authorize Intermunicipal Agreement with Town of Andover and Home-Rule Petition for Potable Water. This article would authorize the Board of Selectmen to file special legislation to enter into a 99-year agreement with Andover for potable water.

Article 12 – Fund Construction of Pump Station, Reading and North Reading Water System Improvements for MWRA Water Interconnection and Acceptance of Water from MWRA. No funding request is anticipated. It would authorize the Board of Selectmen to take any remaining action to finalize joining the MWRA for water, and includes repayment of the buy-in cost. It is recommended by the Selectmen.

Article 13 – Authorize Intermunicipal Agreement with Town of Reading and Home-Rule Petition for Potable Water.

This article would authorize the Selectmen to file special legislation to enter into a 99-year agreement with Reading for potable water. It is recommended by the Board of Selectmen. FinCom will make its recommendation at Town Meeting.

Article 14 – Authorize Article 97 Legislation for Potable Water Interconnection with Town of Reading.

This deals with filing special legislation with Reading to authorize construction of a water interconnection with Reading to access MWRA water on Article 97 protected parcels of land. It is recommended by the Board of Selectmen. FinCom will make its recommendation at Town Meeting.

Article 15 – Amend Code – General By-Laws – Social Host Responsibility

This bylaw places the responsibility on parents, guardians and other individuals to ensure that unlawful activity does not take place at parties or gatherings held at private residences as well as hotels, motels and functions. Violators would be issued civil fines by police with an appeal process to the courts. Fines up to $300 are proposed.

Both the Board of Selectmen and FinCom will make their recommendation at Town Meeting.

Article 16 – Amend Code – General By-Laws – Betterment Assessments:

This amendment would remove the requirement that the town pay 50 percent of the cost of a betterment project and would allow the project to move forward if the residents on private ways requested the improvements and the town would not pay at least 50 percent of the cost. were will to pay for 100 percent of the

Article 17 – Appropriate Money for Special Counsel Legal Expenses

This article seeks $150,000 from Free Cash to fund additional expenses related to the Secondary School Building Project.

Article 18 – Sale of Land – 8 Devens Road (Map 42, Parcel 71). Passage of this article would authorize the town to sell this town-owned parcel via a Request for Proposals rather than by auction to the highest bidder.

Article 19 – Acquire Property for Public Potable Water Main: 100 Lowell Road (Map 14, Parcel 9).

This article would authorize the Board of Selectmen to take necessary steps in removing restrictions on an existing town water main easement at 100 Lowell Rd.

Other articles to come before the voters on Oct. 2 are:

Article 1 – Hear and Act on Reports of Town Officers and Committees, a routine exercise, reports may be made from the Economic Development Team, Athletic Facilities Committee and the Recycling Committee.

Article 2 – Prior Year’s Bills: Transfers $9,475 from the DPW and Employee Benefits FY 2018 operating budgets.

Article 3 – Transfer Funds to Capital Improvement Stabilization Fund. The fund is currently $1.1M. This article proposed to add $200,000 from Free Cash per the FY 2018 Capital Plan which increases the fund balance to $1,309,171.

Article 4 – Appropriate Money to Stabilization Fund, a.k.a.: the “rainy day fund.” The fund balance is $2,259,565. The amount suggested for transfer was not known at press time and both the Selectmen and the FinCom will make their recommendations on Town Meeting floor.

Article 5 – Transfer Funds to Other Post Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund. The fund balance is currently $892,546.83. Transfers are typically made in the spring, but recommendations on whether to do so will be made at Town Meeting.

Article 6 – Amend FY 2018 Operating Budget: The budgets sought to be amended include the Board of Health for Martins Pond testing and response to the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae bloom) issue this summer; the purchase of a refrigerator for the Board of Health office that meets state standards for the keeping of flu vaccines and the like; an adjustment due in the wages for the DPW’s assistant building superintendent and a request to amend the town’s Table of Organization to create a “DPW Operations Director.”

Article 7 – Fund Repairs to Town Buildings: A $50,000 sum from Free Cash will be requested for approval to fund miscellaneous repairs to town buildings, including Senior Center entrance (prime and paint); security camera upgrade and repairs at the Police Station; an upgrade to the fire protection and security alarms at the DPW complex as well as roof repairs; and replacing the elevator floor at the library.

Article 8 – Fund Town Facilities Master Plan: Voters will be asked to fund $200,000 from Free Cash to create a master plan that addresses current and future town facility needs.

Article 9 – Appropriate Supplemental Funds for J.T. Berry/Lowell Road Property: The amount was not known at press time, but the costs relate to services such as surveys, legal, real estate filings and other costs associated with property.