Frequently Asked Questions

HIGHWAY DIVISION (Roads, sidewalks, signage, stormwater)

How do I get a pothole fixed?

  • Call the Highway Division of DPW at (781) 942-9092 or use the See Click Fix App on the Town's website.

Will the Town reimburse me for damage done to my vehicle from running over a pothole?

The Town refers pothole damage claims to its insurer who makes a determination whether the Town is responsible for the claim due to negligence in responding to the notice of the pothole. Any appeals are handled by the claimant‚ insurer or by a judicial claim. Potholes are considered to be a normal consequence of the freezing / thaw cycle of New England weather.

What happens when I have an after hours emergency?

Contact the Reading Police Department: Emergency (Nights, Weekends, Holidays)

Police Department 781-944-1212. The police will contact the oncall DPW personnel.

How do you decide to pave or re-pave a road?

We are constantly checking streets for safety issues and pavement conditions in order to plan‚ short term‚ and future paving projects. The Town conducts pavement condition inspections every 3-4 years to develop a plan to address some of the worst roads and extend the life of roads with limited deterioration.

How do I get my street swept?

Street sweeping normally begins in late March/early April each year after the danger of snow has passed and the weather gets mild. With only two (2) sweepers and weather permitting it usually takes 8-10 weeks to complete the Town.

How do I report a missing street sign / stop sign?

Residents can call the Highway Division at (781) 942-9092 or contact the Reading Police Department at (781) 944-1212.

Can I push snow from my property onto the sidewalk or street?

No. A Town By-Law restricts this act. Additionally, such action may bring liability if an accident should occur. This also increases the Town's cost for snow operations.

Why is my street not plowed first?

The streets are plowed in a set order to maximize efficiency, expediency and our resources. The main roads are generally treated and plowed first, then the secondary roads and the neighborhoods.

How do I report property damage from a plow truck?

If the damage is not in the Town's, right-of-way, repairs will be made in the spring at a time when manpower and equipment are available. Please use the See Click Fix App.

How can I get a street or sidewalk repaired?

Please call the DPW (781) 942-9092 or (781) 942-9077 and leave your name, phone number and the address of the sidewalk defect, or report the damage through our See Click Fix App.

Where can I get information on street construction?

Please call the DPW at (781) 942-9092 or (781) 942-9077 or read the most recent construction notices under our Current Projects.

How do I get a street light that is not working repaired?

Report the address of the light pole or the light pole number (two or three digit number) located on the pole usually within 6-8 feet up from the base) to the Reading Municipal Light Department.

How can I get a catch basin cleaned that appears blocked?

Please call the DPW at (781) 942-9092 or (781) 942-9077 and leave your name, phone number and nearest address or street intersection of the catch basin. Residents can assist Public Works by clearing debris off of catch basin grates, cleaning up debris along the curb in front of their property, and by never putting leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste into a catch basin.

Who should I call if I see someone dumping into a catch basin?

Call the Reading Police Department: (781) 944-1212 with the location of the catch basin and, if known, the material that was dumped and other pertinent information. You may also contact the DPW at (781) 942-9092 or (781) 942-9077.

Who should I call if I notice an oily or dirty discharge from a stormwater outfall?

Please call the DPW at (781) 942-9092 or (781) 942-9077 and leave the nearest street or area of the stormwater outfall.

How can I help maintain the catch basin cover near my house?

With the fall season upon us and many trees already dropping their leaves, your help with maintenance is beneficial to all. If you have a town catch basin near your property it would be very helpful and benefit everyone if you could help maintain that catch basin by clearing all debris from around.

What is storm water?

Storm Water is water that falls from the sky as rain, hail, or melting snow and drains into the municipal drain system, such as catch basins or drainage swales that eventually lead to a wetland or body of water, such a as lake, stream, river or ocean.

What is a storm drainage system?

The Storm Drainage System is a series of catch basins, and drainage ditches that collect and channel run off from streets, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and vegetated land surfaces. This network of pipes and ditches flow into bodies of water such as lakes, streams, rivers and oceans. The Town of Reading’s storm drainage system flows into three drainage areas,  the Ipswich, Aberjona, and Saugus River basins.  Reading is situated at the headwaters of these three rivers which, after flowing through several communities, eventually discharge into the Atlantic Ocean.

Why should we not pollute our storm drains?

Since the storm drains collect all the storm water that flow into Ipswich, Aberjona, and Saugus river basins, polluting our catch basins means we are directly polluting river basins and eventually the oceans. These pollutants can impact our groundwater, wetlands and waterways and contaminate our drinking water endangering people, fish, and wildlife. By keeping our catch basins and drainage swales uncontaminated we keep the environment of Town of Reading clean.

How to indentify any possible pollutants into storm drainage system?

Just Remember C.O.P.

c.o.p.

 

Color
White, Orange (Rust Color), Soap Suds, Oil Sheen, Paint or any unusual colors.
 

Odor
Any odors such as Ammonia, Sulfur (Rotten Egg), Gasoline, Paint Solvents, Sewerage, Chlorine, or Fertilizers emitting from catch basins, drainage ditches, outfalls or waterways.

Pollutants
Trash, Motor Oils, Antifreeze, Household Chemicals, Paints, Chlorine, Detergents, Soaps, Grass Clippings, Leaves, Sweeping, Construction Materials, Pet Excrement, or Insecticides.

If you identify any pollution call the 24 Hour Stormwater Hotline: 781-942-NOW1

What Can a Home Owner Do?

  • Remove debris such as trash, leaves and grass clipping away from catch basins, drainage ditches and waterways.

  • Whenever possible use environmentally friendly, biodegradable products when cleaning outside.

  • Do not dump household waste such as paint, cleaning products, motor oils, antifreeze, pet excrement, yard waste or any other hazardous material into catch basins, drainage ditches and waterways.

  • Dispose of hazardous waste properly with the town’s Household Hazardous Materials Collection Program.

  • Minimize the use of fertilizers near catch basins, drainage ditches and waterways.

  • Dispose of pet waste in the trash.

  • Do not drain chemically treated swimming pools into catch basins or drainage ditches. Pool water should be held until chlorine levels are acceptable enough to discharge to catch basins or drainage ditches.

  • Do not dump anything into a storm drain.

  • If you must wash your car at home, wash it on the lawn to encourage infiltration and

PARKS AND FORESTRY DIVISION

How do I determine if a tree in front of my house belongs to me or the Town of Reading?

Contact the Department of Public Works at (781) 942-9092 Monday through Friday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Who do I call in an emergency if a tree or large limb falls from a Town tree?

Contact the Department of Public Works at (781) 942-9092 Monday through Friday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Does the Town have a spray program for gypsy or winter moth?

The Department of Public Works does not have a Town-wide spray program.

What can I do about tree roots pushing up the sidewalk?

Tree roots can certainly contribute to sidewalk failure, but generally do not cause the heaving initially. We do not remove trees solely because of sidewalk failure. You may contact the Department of Public Works at (781) 942-9077 to have the sidewalk inspected. We will work with the Highway Division to repair the sidewalk without compromising the health of the tree.

I'm tired of raking leaves and cleaning gutters. Why doesn't the Town do something about its trees?

We do not remove trees for this reason alone. The benefits of shade trees along Town streets‚ shading and cooling your property, regulating the flow of stormwater along your street, the aesthetic value‚ far outweigh the work created by fallen leaves.

Will the DPW plant a tree in front of my house?

The Town of Reading has limited resources for tree planting in each fiscal budget. If you wish to have a tree planted, please contact the Forestry Division. We will evaluate your site for suitability and put you on a list for fall planting. If the trees for fall planting are accounted for, you will be placed on the following year's list.

Will the DPW trim or remove the tree in front of my house?

The Forestry Division will evaluate all requests for trimming or removal. We will decide if trimming is adequate. If the tree is deemed hazardous, it may need to be removed. Trees will only be removed if they are dead or determined to be a hazard.

Where can I allow my dog to run without a leash?

At all parks, the Town of Reading's ordinance on leash control apply. And of course, dog walkers are required to pick up dog waste at all sites.

What can be done about dog owners who don't follow the rules about leashes and sanitation?

Citizens should contact the Animal Control Officer at (781) 944-1212.

Whom do I call to reserve a field for sports and games?

You may call the Recreation Division at (781) 942-9075.

Do I need a permit to have a picnic?

It depends upon the size and complexity of your event. For a small family outing that does not involve on-site cooking, no permit is required. If you have something else in mind, contact the Department of Public Works at (781) 942-9077, give us the details, and we'll advise you on what may be required.

Can I use grills for cooking in parks?

Town regulations do not allow such open fires in parks, unless you are issued a permit for a special event. You will need to complete a permit application, and may need to attend a hearing of the Special Events Committee. Contact the Department of Public Works at (781) 942-9077.

CEMETERY

Are the cemeteries owned by the Town of Reading, or are they privately owned?

All four cemeteries in Reading are owned and operated by the Cemetery Division.

What hours are the cemeteries open?

Cemeteries are open from sunrise to one half hour after sunset.

Who can purchase a cemetery lot in Reading?

Current Reading residents only can purchase a cemetery lot. Please refer to the price list on this website for further information.

Can I plant flowers in the ground?

No, there is no planting in the ground in any of the cemeteries. You may place a planter no larger than the length of the headstone in Laurel Hill, Forest Glen and Wood end. In Charles Lawn a single pot of 8 inches or less is allowed.

Are there other restrictions for lot decorations?

Yes, there are no decorations allowed on top of the monuments. Religious items such as vigil lights and crosses are not allowed. Also hanging baskets, fences, stones, rocks, borders, bird houses, and glass items are not allowed.

How do I find information about family internments?

The cemetery internment records are available at the following link: Search Cemetery Records

How can I report stolen flowers off a grave site?

Stolen flowers can be reported to the Cemetery Office at the Department of Public Works (781) 942-9086 and to the Reading Police Department (781) 944-1212.

 

When do they remove Winter/Christmas decorations?

Winter/Christmas decorations are removed April 1st.

Is grave rubbing allowed in any of Reading's cemeteries?

No, grave rubbing is not allowed. The wax or marker material can get on the grave markers and can accelerate their deterioration.

RUBBISH AND RECYCLING

Why should I recycle?

Recycling is responsible resource management. Recycling reduces pollution, saves energy and saves the Town of Reading money. By recycling, we save on the cost of incinerating our trash, currently about $63.02/ton. Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees. The items that we recycle become other useful products.

When is my collection day?

The Town of Reading has weekly mandatory recycling collection, your recycling is now collected every week on the same day your trash is picked up. Click here to view the street listing to determine your day.

What about holiday week collections?

When there is a holiday, collections will be delayed one day after holiday occurs (e.g. if your usual day is Monday and Monday is a holiday, your trash/recycling day will be Tuesday. Friday’s pickup will be on Saturday that week). If the holiday falls on a Thursday (e.g. Thanksgiving), only Thursday and Friday’s collections would be affected.

When should I put out my recycling?

Residents can place their recycling at the curb next to their trash barrel the night before after 4:00pm and no later than 6:00am on their recycling collection day.

Why didn’t the trash truck pick up my recycling?

- Check to make sure you put your recycling out prior to 6:00 a.m. on the correct day. See above.

- Were they in a bin or barrel clearly marked recycling and seperate from your trash barrel?

- Did you breakdown, flatten, and fold your boxes/cartons/cardboard into no larger than 4’ x 4’?  If cardboard is not wrapped in this manner it will 
       not get taken as our trucks do no accomodate them.

- Was there anything in the recycling container that is not considered acceptable for recycling. (Please visit RecycleSmartMA.org to see what items can be recycled.)

- If all of the above has been done in the correct manner, please call the D.P.W. Garage at 781-942-9092 between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Mon-Fri). 

What can I recycle?

Due to the current uncertainity of the recycling market, residents are strongly encouraged to “Go Back to Basics,” by recycling acceptable paper, rinsed plastic containers, rinsed glass containers, or clean metal cans.

PAPER: Newspapers including inserts, magazines, catalogs, phone books, junk mail, clean pizza boxes, clean paperboard such as cereal / pasta boxes and egg cartons and flattened cardboard no larger than 4 x 4’ are some of the paper type items.

COMMINGLED ITEMS: Rinsed plastic containers, rinsed glass containers, and clean metal cans.

For all other questions on whether an item can be recycled in the weekly recycling collection, please refer to the website RecycleSmartMA.org for more information, or contact the Department of Public Works at 781-942-9077.

Recycling bins containing unacceptable items, will be stickered, left curbside, and the residents will be asked to remove any unacceptable items. Drivers will not be sorting curbside.  If recycling is left behind, it will be picked up on the following week’s collection schedule, provided the unacceptable items have been removed.

How do I put items out for recycling?

All clean glass, clean plastic and clean metal containers, can be commingled and placed in your recycling bin or a barrel clearly marked recycling. All newspapers, cereal boxes, junk mail and magazines should be placed in the recycling bin or a clearly marked container with a recycling sticker. Cardboard should be flattened and in bundles no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet by 6 inches thick.  

Do I need to rinse and separate cans, bottles and plastic containers from each other?

Yes, rinsing reduces odors and discourages pests.   All glass, plastic and metal containers, can be placed together in your recycling bin.

What about Styrofoam, dirty pizza boxes, and microwave food boxes?

Styrofoam collection will consist only of the following: clean, white # 6 PS preformed block and sheet, collected Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 2:30pm at the DPW Garage, 75 Newcrossing Rd.   No food containers of any kind, and no colored styrofoam.  If pizza boxes are clean and free of food particles, they can be recycled.

Can I put out more than one recycling bin/barrel?

Yes. You can use your red bin or a trash barrel of your choosing that is clearly marked recycling.

Where can I get a recycling bin or recycling sticker?

A red recycling bin and stickers are available at the Department of Public Works Facility Garage, 75 New Crossing Road or at the DPW Administrative Office in the lower level of Town Hall at 16 Lowell Street.

Does the Town collect yard waste (leaves, grass clippings and other easily raked material)?

Yes, the Town will schedule (5) weeks of curbside leaf collection per year. The contractor will pick up Kraft paper bagged leaves (3) weeks in the fall and (2) weeks in the spring. There is no charge for curbside collection.

Is there a drop off location for yard waste?

The Town operates a compost site at Strout Ave that is opened from April thru November.  Residents must purchase a Compost Sticker at the Police Station or a Compost Card Permit at the D.P.W. Administration Office in Town Hall.

What about Christmas trees?

Residents who want to recycle their Christmas trees are asked to bring them to compost facility when open it is open.

Does the Town collect construction & demolition material?

No, the town does not have the ability to pick up any construction and demolition material with either trash or recycling. This category generally includes siding, doors, asphalt, bricks, concrete and other masonry materials, soil, rock, wall coverings, drywall, plumbing fixtures, insulation, roofing shingles, plate glass, metal, wood waste, and electrical wires.

What can I do with old paint, used motor oil, and other chemicals?

Latex paint can be dried out (solidify with kitty litter or with specifically designed products that are now available) and placed in the trash. Oil based paints, chemical and other household hazardous waste should be brought to the Town’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection day.  For more information, call the Department of Public Works (781) 942-9077.

What can I do with mercury containing items?

Thermometers, thermostats, mercury switches and button batteries can be brought to the D.P.W. Garage, 75 New Crossing Road 8:00 a.m.. - 2:30 p.m. (Mon. - Fri)
Fluorescent lamps should also be brought to the D.P.W. Garage.

What do I do with unwanted appliances?

Household appliances (stoves, air conditioners, refridgerators, washers and dryers) are picked up by calling JRM directly at 1-800-323-HAUL (4285) and arranging payment and scheduling the pickup. Once payment is received, no refunds are granted.

How about CRTs: television sets and computer monitors?  

TV's and CRT's (computer monitors) are not allowed with regular trash or recycling. These items can be picked up weekly by calling JRM directly at 1-800-323-HAUL (4285) and arranging payment and scheduling the pickup.

How about microwaves and other electronics?

Most electronics can be recycled at the drop-off center at the garage (no TV’s or monitors), or can be put out any week with the regular trash. Computers (except for computer monitors, see above), and accessories such as printers, scanners, and faxes may be discarded in the regular trash. However, if they are useable, first try to find a place where they can be put to use.

Do I have to use the official recycling bin? 

No. You can use any re-usable container for your recycling.  Just label it clearly with a "Recycling Sticker" available throught the DPW Administration office at 16 Lowell Street.

Can I recycle my old telephone books? 

Yes. Throw them in with your mixed paper recycling.

SEWER DIVISION

Why is there is a strong sewer odor in my area?

Sewer odors at catch basins can be caused by rotting leaves, low flow in an adjacent catch basin and inappropriate dumping of dog feces, oil, paint or other pollutants. Residents can help alleviate these odors by never dumping anything into a catch basin. Catch basins are installed to collect rainwater only Please call the DPW at (781) 942-9092 or (781) 942-9077 and leave your name, phone number and nearest address or street intersection where you smell the sewer odor.

Who should I call if I have sewage backup into my home?

If the sewer backs up (for example the toilet, sink, tub or washing machine) please call the Water & Sewer Division at (781) 942-9092  (Monday - Friday from 7:00 am - 3:00 pm.) They will make sure that the problem is not due to the Town's system.  Emergency (Nights, Weekends, Holidays) Call Reading Police Department (781) 944-1212. Please provide your name, address and phone number.

How much of the sewer service is the homeowner's responsibility?

The homeowner's responsibility runs from the sewer main in the street to the house.

Who do I call to repair the sewer pipe?  How do I know if a sewer pipe needs to be repaired?

Please call the Water & Sewer Division first and they will help if they can. A sewer pipe must be repaired by a Licensed Drain Layer. A list of current Licensed Drain Layers is available at the Engineering webpage under permits. If the problem is in the house and needs to be repaired, the homeowner would call a plumber after calling the Water and Sewer Division.