There’s A Lot Happening at Church!

There’s A Lot Happening at Church!

Yikes, there’s so much going on around church these days (and this contains no update on the construction site proper)…

Madelyn is helping us painting words on the rainbow doors. “God’s Doors Are Open to All. It’s Love. It’s Justice.” The last service camp of the summer should help us paint the back sides of the doors in the second week of August, then we hope to get “their installation” up in front of the church soon thereafter. 

The new spotlights have been installed to illuminate the Sanctuary’s facade at night. They need some adjusting, but neither Michael nor the electrician have been here late enough for that finetuning. Even so, they add light and warmth to a yard that used to look too forlorn, ominous and foreboding. They are one of our efforts to bring more attention to the church, when the construction fence is sort of overshadowing us. 

Sullivan has finished the new wood framing for the glass doors. Colin has come and repainted them inside and out (including the new framing) before the glass doors are installed. Rabinowitz Glass has come and taken the final measurements for manufacturing the glass. They should be installed before Labor Day. 

Nancy, Janice and Michael (and Troy from Community Ventures) met with the Landscape Architects who are responsible for the part of the yard covered in the construction site. Our side, the east end of the courtyard, will need to wait until the end of the construction project, lest too much square footage is disturbed and our property becomes subject to rainwater collection guidelines. 

The exceptions to that are the regrading and replacing of the main walkway to the church (minus the raised bed / church sign) and a new walkway with a few-step access from Orianna Street that will occur towards the end of the construction period.  

Still, we think it is important 1) to make sure the two sides of the yard sync with one another, and 2) we have some idea of where we are headed if we need to do anything in the meantime.  

The Oak Tree in the front courtyard is ailing. We have had an arborist out who says that the roots have grown tight around the bottom of the tree, and that accounts for the thin foliage this year and the bare branches at the top. He says that in light of all the other disturbance the root system will incur with the relaying of the main walkway, it’s likely that the tree is near the end of its life. 

Admin has chosen to ask the arborist to trim all the dead wood from the tree to lessen the stress on the tree and the risk of injury to anyone below. But Admin voted not  to take the tree down right now. There is some concern for the community’s feelings over how many trees have already been cut down. As we think of the longer term plan for that side of the courtyard, the Oak tree will most likely not be part of it. 

We have realized that it’s time to replace our 30 year old roof. In these heavy rains we have developed a few leaks, and once the roofers learn how old the roof is, their advice has been uniformly, “don’t try ‘spot repair;’ it will leave you frustrated –  two months after the last repair, a new leak will show up someplace else. Instead you need to replace the whole roof.” 

This will also involve venting for the attic and some maintenance of the built in gutters. It’s also complicated by the construction taking place, particularly finding access to our side of the yard.  

This is a major capital expense, and there will need to be a congregational meeting to approve the expenditure. Please stay tuned for the announcement of that meeting. 

Parking was such a concern as we began to plan for the redevelopment of our property. But post pandemic, there are less people coming to the Sanctuary, and summertime always leaves more free parking places. Parking has not turned out to be a major problem (even if walking around the construction fence feels like a much longer trek than cutting across the property). 

If you think about not coming to church because you won’t find parking, so far that’s just not true. 

We have the 30-minute loading zone right in front of the main walkway, that has been set up for dropping people off. When there are cars in our loading zone, we have realized that there is a “permanent no parking” space right in front of our loading zone,  just east of Orianna that is always free and works well as an alternative, nearby drop-off for passengers. 

For anyone who is worried about the distance from where they might have to park to the Sanctuary, we are able to provide valet services. Simply leave your car in the loading zone with its flashers on and bring your keys into the Lower Narthex where someone should be able to help you. Likewise, we can get someone to bring your car to you at church once services are over. 

People are nervous about parking in the relaxed parking spaces along the east side of 4th NORTH of Race Street. It is reported that drivers give dirty looks when church-goes use “the right turn lane” for relaxed parking. The situation is made more intense because now there is regular parking on the west side of 4th Street in front of the new apartment building. Hence, with relaxed parking on the east side of 4th, there is a single lane of traffic coming up to the light at Race Street. 

But the relaxed parking there is an accommodation not just for Old First, but also for the St. George’s and for St. Augustine’s. The Street’s Department has determined it is ok in light of Sunday traffic levels.

So we are recommending that relaxed parkers on 4th Street north of Race think of themselves as helping to teach other drivers that on Sundays there is just one lane available. It will slow traffic down and make it safer for us all. (If they can’t get through, they could come to church!) 

JVMT has been talking about surveying the neighboring garages for the best deals on Sunday morning parking. There has even been a suggestion that we could organize some sort of “back to church” parking promotion for September. Not sure we have a volunteer to undertake those plans yet, so if you are interested, let Megan or Michael know. 

Remember, folks, that the change in our parking situation isn’t just temporary during construction. Instead, it’s our new reality – we have thought it better to create 34 permanent homes for folks who had been homeless, even if it meant sacrificing the few off-street parking spaces we had. We will figure out how to do the best we can, and we really hope no one is avoiding on-site church because of parking!