Meet the Candidate: James Read Planning Board

To the Residents of Holliston:

My name is James Read, though almost all of you know me as Jimmy. I am a lifelong Holliston resident, having grown up and still residing in downtown Mudville. I am a graduate of Holliston High School, Class of 1999. For those who do not yet know me, I am also the owner of R&R Landscaping. We are a family owned business which was started by my father, Robert Read, more than 50 years ago! My wife is Lyra Read and we are true high school sweethearts. Lyra has been my true inspiration for every step of the way. Without her, I would not be where I am today. We have a 3 year old son, Spencer. It would be impossible to encapsulate how Spencer has helped shape my life and my overall thought process.

I am an active member of the Holliston community. I have coached youth baseball, was a member of the Friends of the Rail Trail (having installed and maintained the dog waste bins), and was active in the Holliston Historical Society. As a Townie, I love local history! It is an honor to support the many organizations, spaces, and events that help make Holliston unique. I love Holliston. If there is one thing I know for sure, I am here to stay!

I am running for Holliston Planning Board. I have observed and participated in the Planning Board meetings over several years, and learned much along the way. The reason I am running is because I feel like I bring a very unique perspective to the group. Being a small business owner and being so ingrained in the community, I have a bird’s eye view that could really benefit the Planning Board. I am also extremely familiar with the challenges that most small business owners endure through their growth. It can be a bumpy road. I am running for the Planning Board because I feel like it’s the best fit for my skills and background. The Planning Board is a critical component to the function of our great town, and I will apply all my background in business and community to guide businesses through the process. I would be honored to serve alongside my fellow board members to build our community.

For me, it’s really important that board members go into every meeting with an eagerness to explore all options in a genuine effort to find a way to make a plan that works for both the applicant and the residents. I certainly understand that some plans are not feasible. Especially when there could be a conflict with local laws and regulations. What many people might not know is that a commercial and industrial property owner who wants to increase their outdoor storage, or wants to add new construction to an existing structure, or wants to change their use group in some way is automatically triggered to go before the Planning Board. This can be an extremely stressful process for applicants. Especially when they might feel the need to defend the needs of their business. My campaign slogan is “working together” and that’s what we need to do. These businesses are our neighbors and our friends. Coexisting is the right thing to do with these small and medium sized businesses.

Having said that, onto big business. Everyone wants to know what my stance is on 555 Hopping Brook Road. Let me first start by saying that I felt like the board members involved with the “555″ project did a remarkable job. It was an extremely challenging application for the group. It was an unprecedented situation. I commend every member of that particular board for their involvement. Ultimately it was decided that the tremendous increase of “all hour” trucking (amongst other reasons) was inappropriate and burdened residents primarily west of Hopping Brook Industrial Park.

I have many close friends that live on the west end of Holliston. My own Mother lives on Route 16, west of “555”. While this project was going through the permitting phase, I watched a number of meetings and tuned in best I could along the way. Being that we were at the height of the Covid pandemic and my son having just been born, it was really a crazy time for me (like most).

Knowing only what I knew then about the 555 Hopping Brook project, I would not have supported this specific initiative. While it certainly would have generated our much needed commercial tax revenue, I feel the cons outweigh the pros. In reality, the handling of the 555 Hopping Brook permitting phase has nothing to do with my reason for running in this election! I hope I have cleared the air of the misconception that I would have supported this as a community member, because I would not have.

In all likelihood, 555 Hopping Brook Road will eventually be developed in some way. Let’s be ahead of it! Let’s engage in conversation with commercial and industrial land owners and find a way to make the already existing industrial spaces in town work for everyone!. Let’s think outside the box, and see what possibilities there are. One of my goals for my potential time on the Planning Board is to explore ways to get vacant, inactive properties functional again, while working within the current laws and regulations. I very much want to have continued dialogue between town government and owners of properties that meet the criteria mentioned above. Anyone that lives in Holliston knows these properties well. Frankly we’d be better off getting them to be functional again, rather than to have them look abandoned because the owner could not achieve permitting once upon a time. Let’s engage with them and see what can be done. Where there is a will, there is a way and I truly believe that.

Holliston’s tax base is in decline, proportionately speaking to our needs. We rely far too heavily on our residential tax base. Many of our seniors are on fixed income and simply can’t afford tax overrides. My son is 3 years old and I want the confidence of knowing that the Holliston Public School System is on the upswing. I want to know that we are trending in the right direction for that. It is exciting to see some really fantastic future school committee members campaigning right now. I look forward to supporting town departments and boards with new or renovated municipal buildings. We need to find creative ways to generate more tax revenue, while still maintaining the quaint, small town feel that we all cherish so much. All of these goals are possible with the right group dynamic.

One of the Planning Board’s major roles is to help shape the look and feel of our town. Our Master Plan is now 25 years old and needs updating. Our town has grown a lot and it has changed a lot. Trying to shape and mold Holliston’s future is a tall task for anyone. But I look at this opportunity as glass half full, as we now have an additional 25 year size sample to plan for our children’s future. I think we need to consider all of our decisions with our children’s future in mind. This notion can really be applied in so many different ways, but it should be the common theme.

I want to take a moment to commend one of Holliston’s greatest assets, Karen Sherman. Karen plays a critical role as our town planner in providing guidance to the board. I have had the privilege of speaking with and getting assistance that I needed from Karen Sherman for a number of years now. She is simply incredible and it would be an honor to work alongside her. She has an incredible wealth of knowledge and she continues to polish her craft every day. I feel like this is something we can all agree on!

While I certainly talk a lot (for those who know me best), I also love to listen. Having spent all my life in Holliston, I love to hear what others have to say even if we do not agree. Ultimately, your thoughts are just as important as my own. I will always find a way to make the time to lend an ear. It might not be right away, but it will happen! We are all in this together. My only agenda is to serve my neighbors and support my community. When I vote, I vote for Holliston; I vote for us. I pride myself on communication, and I love a good conversation. If you have any questions, please reach out and let’s talk!

I ask for and greatly appreciate your support on Tuesday May 21st. Please, come out and vote! Thank you for your consideration.

James E. Read

Press Release