Harvard foundation could boost parks department

Harvard looks to establish foundation to raise funds for unit

HARVARD – Officials say a foundation that will act as the fundraising arm of Harvard’s Parks and Recreation department could breathe life into the cash-strapped unit.

The city is in the process of submitting paperwork to establish the foundation and reach nonprofit status. Once created, it would raise money to support Parks and Recreation endeavors.

City Administrator Dave Nelson said the money at first would go toward funding grant writers, who will focus on finding private grants the city isn’t qualified to earn.

Money also could go toward “benevolent purposes” like paying city participation fees for kids whose families can’t afford the fees.

But foundation money won’t go directly toward funding Parks and Recreation programs or maintenance, Nelson said.

“At least initially,” he added. “That could change.”

It will take time before the foundation is up and running. Nelson estimated the city’s paperwork won’t go through for another year.

When it does, the extra opportunities could help a department that has felt the crunch of a tight economy and issues at the state level, Nelson said.

Parks and Recreation Superintendent Mike Clingingsmith said the help would be welcomed.

Clingingsmith this year expanded the city’s swim lessons program – an improvement he says has been well-received by the community. But he’d like to see continued expansion of Parks and Recreation’s reach.

Clingingsmith has his eyes set on several improvements – from benches and a warming shelter for the city’s ice rink to resurfacing and repainting the city pool. And he’s begun planning for an after-school camp for kids in Harvard.

“All the other departments need money, too,” he said. “What do you do – patch the streets, fix the water main? Or do you provide after-school programs?”

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