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HARVARD — The Municipal Building Task Force report and funding request that members Douglas Coots and Timothy Clark presented to the Board of Selectmen was not what the board was looking for.

The selectmen appointed the study group to explore the possible uses of town-owned buildings in the town center area including Town Hall, the old library that will be vacant when the library moves to its new location at Old Bromfield and the Hildreth house, which houses the Council on Aging and serves as a Senior Center.

But the task force’s recommendations to hire a consultant and hold workshops for public input would take the effort too far, too soon, said Chairman Randall Dean during the Aug. 15 meeting.

While he didn’t disagree with the group’s visionary goals, he said the board was looking for “technical” data and financial estimates first.

“Frankly, this is not how I saw the process going I am not comfortable with what is being presented,” he said.

The task force is “preparing a scope of work for professional assistance in evaluating current conditions and potential uses” for the buildings, according to the status report. To date, members have collected building plans and schematics for architectural assessment.

The report proposes action in four steps:

* Assess the physical condition of each building, inside and out, including systems, access and code compliance.

* Develop materials for a public forum.

* Prepare a final report with suggested upgrades and modifications.

Explaining the direction the study had taken, Clark said in terms of building use there was a difference of opinion among residents about preserving historic assets, an issue that could come up because the town center is in the historic district.

Coots, who serves on the Historical Commission, said guidelines being drafted make it easier for historic district residents to submit applications for remodeling projects. The guidelines might also provide generic insight into the purpose and purview of historic preservation.

Meanwhile, Clark said it was incumbent on the study to “assess a broad view” of how the buildings should be used and hire a professional to present the data.

The proposed moves were off-target, said Selectman William Marinelli.

“I’m leery of developing an alternate path to consensus,” he said.

Nor did he see the necessity for spending $7,000, as the task force requested, to assess the three buildings, he said.

In its report, the task force noted that town meeting appropriated $5,000 to assess the library and Town Hall, but adding Hildreth House to the list called for upping the total to $7,000. The group asked the selectmen to tap Rantoul Trust Funds for the added $2,000.

The group might be expending more effort than necessary at this point, said Marinelli. Citing cross-purposes with another study group, he said he wanted to avoid a similar scenario this time. Tasked with addressing septic problems in the town center, the Town Center Septic Study Committee — headed by Clark — developed its own momentum earlier in the process, framing a plan the selectmen did not support.

Selectman Robert Eubank agreed.

“A concern was we didn’t want a lot of study and expense, only to have (the plan) rejected ” he said.

Clark argued that a “community component” was needed to determine appropriate uses for the buildings and conversion cost estimates were secondary to that element.

Doing it the other way around seemed backward to him, he said.

Selectman Lucy Wallace, citing the importance of community input, backed the workshop idea.

Dean disagreed.

“It’s the wrong time,” he said. “How do we know what we can or might do without an idea of the cost and implications?”

The task force set too wide a focus and must narrow it, he said.

“Just come up with plans (the selectmen) can present to the public,” said Marinelli.

The board scheduled a repeat visit. The task force was placed on the Sept. 19 agenda.

In the meantime, Clark favored “ongoing conversations,” he said.

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