HARVARD -- Ann Taylor and Connie Larrabee, representing the Council on Aging and the Hildreth House Improvement Committee, updated the selectmen Tuesday night on the status of the fundraising campaign they aim to start soon to augment taxpayer funding for the $3.5 million Hildreth House renovation and addition project.

In a report describing the fledgling effort and the reasoning behind it, Taylor cited a $500,000 fundraising goal, $150,000 of which would offset project costs.

Among the items to be funded outside the project budget, the report listed appliances, furniture and ADA-inspired add-ons such as handicap bathroom access improvements on the second floor and installation of a handicap-accessible kitchen sink. Resources they hope to tap for the cause include private donations and grants.

The fundraising group also hopes to secure grants for energy improvements and plans to submit an application to the CPC for Community Preservation Act funding. They're working closely with Steve Matson to map out a strategy, Taylor and Larrabee said.

In addition, their role as fundraisers includes outreach to the community, Taylor said, with help from Council on Aging member Pat Jennings and Pat White.

"We do have copies of the (architectural design) plans to show people," Larrabee added.

And the HHI fundraisers plan to set up an information table at the annual flea market in October, partnering with two other local groups, Harvard Help and Friends of the COA.

Although any assistance offered is appreciated, they are specifically seeking people with grant-writing expertise and tech savvy helpers to help them get the word out, perhaps via social networking such as Facebook.

Memorial donations would also be welcomed, Taylor said, suggesting that folks who grew up in town might want to donate to the project in honor of their parents.

Another option they've considered would be to auction off items such as furniture and fixtures in the hold building that are slated for removal before the renovation starts. Good idea, the selectmen said, but according to procurement laws pertaining to municipalities, anything worth more than $50 must be documented and listed as "surplus" first.

Asked what charitable umbrella they'll be working under, the two emissaries said they've been consulting with the finance director to see what the best conduit for receiving donations would be. "We've been talking to Lorraine about that," Larrabee explained. Turns out, it's not necessary to set up a special account, but any money that comes in must be separately accounted for, she said, sketching Leonard's take on the matter.

For now, the working assumption is that donation checks can be written out to the COA, with "Hildreth House Improvement" noted in the memo line. But that's not hard and fast yet. "We'll work it out with her help," Larrabee said.

"We'll do it that way if we can," Taylor added.

"So ... you've got a ways to go," Ron Ricci said as the two women concluded their presentation.

They conceded the point but said they were gearing up to move forward and hopeful about the outcome. At some point, they plan to do a town-wide mailing, Taylor said, and they are always on the lookout for connections and fundraising suggestions.

Lucy Wallace commended them for the effort. "You're doing a great job," she said.

Town Hall

Two years ago, Mary Helan Turner stood up at Town Meeting and pledged her commitment to help with the Town Hall renovation and addition project, specifically targeting the upstairs gathering space and stage reclamation that townspeople said they wanted as part of the design plan.

Now, it's been over a year since the article passed, approving the project and taxpayer funding for the proposed budget, but the fundraising effort that was to have secured those perks seems to have stalled. Stage lighting and wiring, for example, and perhaps repairing the old piano, neither of which are listed in the budget, which doesn't even include money to move it.

Monday night, Turner told the selectmen she'd been waiting in the wings for a call that never came. "I guess when I said...that I'd chair the committee that someone would come to me," she said, positing that it was the selectmen's job to seat a committee for her to head up.

Former selectman Tim Clark promised to round up committee members, Chairman Marie Sobalvarro said, and a gift account was set up to receive tax-deductible donations. 

Taylor said she's still interested in getting involved, as are others. But she wanted to be sure the building project plans still include the stage. She was assured that's the case.

The next step would be working with Clark to get the group going, Sobalvarro said.