NEWBURYPORT — As an architect works on a construction proposal for the new Senior Center, the Council on Aging is planning initiatives to help reach the fundraising level needed to build the new center.
Estimates provided to the city by Courtstreet Architects now show the projected cost to build the center is close to $7 million — an increase from the initial $5 million estimate, as fixed costs are expected to rise in the coming years that it will take to secure the funding.
Roseann Robillard, director of the Friends of the Council on Aging, said this week the group is working with "Got Books," a national organization that collects used books, DVDs and CDs. The group is hoping to place a gray cube container to collect items for the "Got Books" program at Cushing Park. The closest containers now are in Newbury, Amesbury and at Triton Regional High School.
The City Council will need to approve placement of the container before the plans for the fundraiser are finalized.
Robillard said she has brought books to the containers in the other communities and believes it will be well used.
"There's hundreds of dollars being received by Newbury and Amesbury," she said. "They're getting hundreds of dollars a month."
Robillard said overall fundraising efforts are progressing.
The Friends has also engaged a "professional fundraiser" from a Greater Boston firm to assist with the process, as no one on the board has ever been involved in such a major fundraising effort like this before, she said. The person will create a development plan and will issue a report to the Friends of the Council on Aging. A contract with that person and the hiring is not yet finalized.
That person will guide the group and help identify banks and other foundations that can be approached, Robillard said.
"The time is now," she said. "We need to get on board and make this happen."
Robillard has also approached Shaw's Supermarket and filed an application to be included in one of the store's initiatives.
Under the program, customers who use a Shaw's card can choose to have a percentage of their purchases benefit an organization of their choice, which Robillard hopes will soon include the Friends of the Council on Aging.
This week, Mayor John Moak reiterated statements he has made in the past, saying that a building like the Senior Center cannot be built without help from the city, which would likely need to cover around two-thirds of the costs.
"You can't build a public building without involvement from the citizens," Moak said.
A Senior Center Building Committee recently picked the preliminary design for the new center at Cushing Park, choosing a plan that calls for the building to be closer to Kent and Washington streets, while keeping the basketball court that's already at the site, which was requested by neighbors.