Anne Landry

TOWN MANAGER SEARCH - Local Select Board member Anne Landry, pictured above in this file photo, last night updated her colleagues about the search for Town Manager Robert LeLacheur’s replacement. A Town Manager Search Committee reportedly conducted finalists with a number of job applicants in recent days.

By BOB HOLMES

READING - It was two motions from Mark Dockser but in many ways it was the end of a long walk in the forest for Select Board members.

The first motion, “Approve the purchase and sale agreement between Bancroft Estates LLC and the town of Reading for Lot 5 of the Meadow Brook property as presented.”

The second motion, “Authorize Town Counsel to close on property in accordance with the terms of the conditions of the purchase and sale agreement and execute and record any documents related thereto, including a settlement statement and the deed.”

With a 5-0 vote the Select Board closed a long-running story in Reading, the purchase of one lot, a small part of the Meadow Brook Country Club, and just a few steps through the forest from the par 3 seventh hole.

The discussion started months ago when Meadow Brook decided to sell five lots to a local developer. But Reading had the right to step into the shoes of the buyer and purchase the property and a discussion started over whether to spend the $2.25 million. Supporters talked about safety on Grove Street and the need to protect open space. Opponents said the cost was too much. When the developer offered the town the option of buying one lot for $450,000 it was an attractive and more reasonable compromise to many. Town Meeting agreed.

Following the closing of Bancroft’s purchase of lots 1-5 from Meadow Brook next month, it will be Reading’s turn to close on its purchase of lot 5 from Bancroft, authorized by a vote of Town Meeting last month and finalized by the board at Tuesday’s meeting. Reading will close on its lot before Dec. 31.

There will be a final inspection somewhere between Dec. 16 and 23rd, but it’s almost a formality.

“They’re okay with an inspection, but if there’s an issue we don’t like, there really isn’t any recourse,” said Dockser.

After the closing, the next step for the town is to pursue an easement with Meadow Brook. For decades residents have used a footpath behind lot 5 to get into the Town Forest. But the town wants to make the informal use of the footpath formal by seeking an easement.

The Conservation Commision will be involved with the goal of developing a plan on how best to approach Meadow Brook, which Dockser said is open to the subject.

“I just think that it’s in our interest to start the discussion,” said Dockser.

A discussion, although brief, was also held about Reading’s search for a new Town Manager.

The Town Manager Screening Committee concluded two days of interviews Tuesday, and with board members Karen Herrick and Anne Landry on the committee, the Select Board meeting didn’t start until 8 p.m.

During liaison reports, Anne Landry, chair of the Screening Committee, gave an update on their work that had few details because of concerns for confidentiality. But the bottom line is that the town is getting closer to hiring a new Town Manager.

Following the open portion of last Wednesday’s meeting the board went into executive session and started pouring over the resumes of the 23 applicants.

“I think we were all pleased with the resumes,” said Landry.

On Monday and Tuesday those who made the first cut were interviewed at the library. Landry wouldn’t say how many were interviewed or if the interview process was complete. Fellow board member Chris Haley asked Landry if there were any Reading residents in the mix but even he was told by Landry that she wasn’t comfortable discussing those details.

What she did say, however, was a question to her fellow board members. Were they available to meet the finalists in open session on Monday, Dec. 6 or Tuesday, Dec. 7? That potential Tuesday meeting would take place prior to the Select Board meeting at 7 p.m. No decision was made on either day.

At last week’s first meeting of the committee, consultant Bernie Lynch said the goal was to have 2-4 finalists. And, the goal all along was to have a new Town Manager selected some time in December.

Current Town Manager Bob LeLacheur announced he was stepping down at the Aug. 10 Select Board meeting. His final day is Feb. 25 and if the hiring process continues on schedule, the new Town Manager and LeLacheur will overlap for a short period.

The open portion of the meeting ended at 10:20 and the board went into executive session to vote on collective bargaining agreements with the firefights union and Public Works. The board meets again Dec. 7.

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