Sanctuary Enhancement and Accessibility Committee Report 2021

Sanctuary Enhancement and Accessibility Committee Report 2021

Sanctuary Enhancement & Accessibility Committee

Submitted by:  The Members of S.E.A.C.

We have accomplished a lot this year.

DESIGN & PLANNING

At the beginning of 2021, we were just starting to work through design ideas and planning. During the first part of 2021 we made several key design decisions, with input from the Elders and the congregation. These included:

  • Lighting—New lighting will improve the worship and performance experience.
  • Technology upgrades—Better technology will bring some of the best elements of “Zoom church” into the sanctuary.
  • Music storage—New storage cabinets will free space in the existing choir room for other activities.
  • Chancel redesign—The new chancel will expand space for worship activities and will include ramps for accessibility and flexibility.
  • New seating—The removal of most of the church pews and replacing with chairs will allow for flexible worship and performance activities. Alongside this choice was the decision to level the floor.

PROJECT STATUS

  • Painting is complete and looks great. The new color highlights the sanctuary’s historical architectural elements.
  • Carpet is removed, in preparation for new flooring.
  • Pews are removed and new chairs are on site.
  • Electrical work and lighting upgrades are in process. [Note: when the electricians bid on the project, they found several elements of the existing electrical system that were not up to code. No work on the project’s electrical plans could be completed without attending to these deficiencies in our existing electrical system. The electricians will add emergency lighting and an upgraded circuit box. This work is now included in our project reporting, although technically outside of the scope of the project.]

CHALLENGES

The Committee has struggled with carpentry work​ and the permitting process.

The committee and architect were initially unaware that the selected contractor lacked a license and all required insurance coverages, and, therefore, the company could not be listed on the permit application until it completed all licensing prerequisites. The contractor performed some work that did not require a permit. However, the committee believes that initial work was not completed to the expected standard of good workmanship. Those issues have not been resolved with the contractor despite communicating with him from early October to late December about curing the work. Moreover, we believe the contractor’s work has been understaffed, sporadic and slow. Additionally, lower quality materials were substituted for some materials specified in written estimates. 

In light of these concerns, we met with the contractor and have terminated the contract by mutual agreement. We are grateful to Janice’s husband Reuben, who has a background in construction procurement and who assisted with communication with the contractor.

The status of work completed by the now-terminated contractor is as follows:

  • New attic access & ladder (nearly completed); and
  • Storage for music library in the balcony (nearly completed)

During these troubles, Janice Smith (SEAC chair) stepped in to fix non-conforming work completed by the contractor and rejected by the Committee. She built a set of railings in the stairs by the front windows.

We have selected a new carpentry contractor who will begin soon. Outstanding work as of this writing includes leveling the subfloor, building a new chancel, and laying new tongue-and-groove flooring in the Sanctuary.

Due to these challenges, the work has been slower than anticipated when the project began in 2021. But we are confident that with a new contractor in place, the project will move forward more quickly, and be completed in a good and workmanlike manner in 2022.

BUDGET  (budget table is visible in the Annual Report article)

Please see budget report (below). The proposed budget (presented for congregational approval) requests increases in the following expense lines:

Line 2: Chancel & carpentry—Increase explained above.

Line 4: Technology/Electrical/Lighting—Increase explained above.

Line 6: Flooring—The flooring contractor has increased their fees due to pandemic staffing and materials shortages.

The revised budget also shows decreases in the following lines:

Line 1: Glass entry doors—The bid from the contractor for the entry doors was less than originally budgeted.

Line 3: Attic ventilation—We decided to delay the attic ventilation work; we will use the improved access to the attic to collect data over several months and postpone implementation to a second phase of the project (which will be presented to the congregation for approval at that time).

Line 7: Seating—We purchased fewer chairs in this phase of the project than the original plan. As presented to the congregation in October 2021, the committee has decided to complete the renovations, begin to use the chairs on a regular basis, and then decide later how many additional chairs to purchase as part of Phase 2.

Overall, our new proposed budget is now $517,493, an increase of $103,757 over the budget approved by the congregation in May 2021. The good news is giving has been very generous and contributions will be enough to cover the higher expenses, with an anticipated surplus of $13,028. These funds will be set aside, to be applied to Phase 2 of the project, the details of which will be presented at that time to the congregation for approval.

The committee is in awe of the generosity of the congregation and other donors who are making this work possible. God is very good!

Serving on this committee has been a true privilege for each of us. For most of the year we have met once a week. Members’ different talents and interests are respected and shared. Each of us brings a perspective that has allowed us to move forward on the decisions we have tackled.

We greatly appreciate the support the congregation has given us as we work together on behalf of the church.

– The Sanctuary Enhancement & Accessibility Committee  (Dan, Michael, Suzanne, Rae, Nancy, Barry, Keith, Allison, Tony, Joanna, Bob, Janice (chair), Kathy)