The Session has finally received the architectural drawings from LGA Partners (formerly Lami-Grubb). There are no costs associated with what is in the drawings yet because they have to go out to contractors for bids (electrical, construction, HVAC, etc.). Once that piece is complete, then we can sit down as a congregation to determine priorities and what is realistically attainable. In addition to reaching out to contractors, the drawings must be submitted to the Borough to get proper building permits so that once we decide to move forward, we can begin right away. We will have a year from the time we receive approval to begin construction before having to reapply.
We once again want to stress that no decisions have been made yet. All of this behind-the-scenes work must be completed in order for us to get the whole picture before the Session, with the guidance of the congregation, decides to move forward. While we know this has not been moving as quickly as many have wanted, we trust that the end result will provide us with a more functional and efficient building, giving us greater freedom to use our financial resources to further the good work of the Kingdom in Edgewood.
About the Renovation Proposal
by Tom Ochs
For the renovation, we must remember that we are dealing with a 100 year building and we are evaluating substantial changes. When the final report is issued, we will all be part of the process to understand the changes, evaluate the costs and make decisions about the feasibility of these changes being part of our growth in future years. Regardless of the final decision, as a church we should be looking optimistically to the future with the intent to grow our numbers and expand our mission.
Since the funds were approved to hire an architect to develop plans for the program area, sanctuary and HVAC, it was necessary to get detailed drawing of the building, survey the electrical and mechanical systems, determine how to relocate the large electrical panel by the men’s bathroom, have a structural engineer evaluate the modifications needed for the ADA lift and have many discussion on the sanctuary platform. There have been discussions on the best method to replace the steam boiler and the most efficient way to service a building where most of the rooms are only occupied a few hours a week. We have had five HVAC contractors visit the church for consultation. The architect has also been backlogged resulting in drawings time taking longer than expected. Although there may be some impatience, for a project such as this a slow approach has its advantages because it helps avoid quick decision that may not be the best in the longer term.
At the present time, we are expecting to receive drawings in the next 2-3 weeks. Because the HVAC encompasses the whole building, we think it may be best to separate that from the program room/sanctuary platform changes. The current distribution of forced air furnaces would allow the HVAC to be installed before those changes are implemented. Of course, before any changes are approved or any contracts issues everyone will have the opportunity to review the changes proposed, the cost associated with those changes and how they will be funded.
When this project started the goal was to reconfigure the first floor to provide a program space that fit the present size of our congregation that was new, functional, easier to maintain, with ADA access and modern bathrooms and kitchen. The inefficient, high maintenance and irregular heat of the steam system was to be replaced with a new more efficient system. The sanctuary platform was to correct years of changes in the sanctuary including removing pews, worship service changes and use of the organ. Hopefully we will be wise enough to make good decisions for the future of our church.
THANK YOU for your patience. The good news is that the architect will have the plans, drawing, and specs for us in the next couple of weeks. Please don’t be discouraged with the apparent lack of progress. Tom Ochs (with an occasional assist from Jim Segedy and Pastor Michael) has been meeting at least weekly with engineers, etc. Tom is especially working hard with HVAC people — and there is the rub. The heating and air-conditioning issue is not as easily done as we thought originally. You will hear much more about the possible renovation soon! Hang in there!
Pastor Michael and those most involved with the building renovation project encourage you to “hang in there.” This is an important decision facing us and it is important that we give it time. Time for thinking, talking, planning, and praying.
Most everyone who attended the annual congregational meeting and presentation on Sunday, January 31 left the meeting with more questions than answers. We hear you.
At this point we await the drawings and specs from the architect. Some of the fog will clear at that time. And please trust us on this—we will discuss, pray and seek God’s will together.
After the worship concluded on Sunday, January 31, Bob Grubb of Lami Grubb Architects delivered a power point presentation of what the possible building renovation would look like. After a fifteen minute presentation, Pastor Michael opened the floor for questions. Bob Grubb, Tom Ochs, Jim Segedy and Pastor Michael responded to the questions.
Here is a brief overview of the proposed renovated space of the first floor:
Finally, the decision regarding the renovation will be voted on BY THE CONGREGATION NOT ONLY THE SESSION. Consequently, the leadership of this project (Tom Ochs, Jim Segedy, Pastor Michael and session) will be conducting at least two more congregational meetings before a decision is made.
I would add two more remarks:
Finally, and from personal experience, my father was contractor. As I grew up, I became very aware of the issues and challenges a contractor faces as building construction and renovation efforts move forward. My Dad made it clear that church construction/renovation projects were extra challenging because so many people from the church would contribute to the design plan as the work proceeded. I will assume that FPCE will not be different. I hope and pray that a firm, trusting relationship between leadership team, session and congregation will be formed so that everyone voice will be heard and all of us will be aware of the changes that occur. As your pastor, I will make every effort to hear and respond to every concern that is raised.
May God bless us with wisdom and resources as we look into the future. The most important guide will be that this congregation become a more effective mission arm of the kingdom of God that Jesus Christ ushered into this world.
The work proceeds with careful and prayerful deliberation. Two teams have been formed to help all of us understand what a renovation could look like and how we could pay for it.
The Building Design Team:
Chris Baldwin, Emily Lilly, Mary Ross, Tom Ochs, Jim Segedy and Pastor Michael.
The Fundraising Team:
Gregg Baldwin, Amy Moore, Paul Ohori, Rhonda Apessos, Tyler McGuigan, Tom Ochs and Pastor Michael.
Both teams have met and developed some positive ideas. Tom and Pastor Michael have met with the architect and engineers to discuss initial, potential changes. Soon, the architect will have a plan to propose and the entire congregation will be invited to listen to the architect’s presentation, openly discuss and vote on the proposed renovation.
August was a month of vacations for some of us and our architect. So there is not much to report. The two work or subcommittees—”Building Design” and “Fundraising” will be meeting soon. We will be working closely with the architect. More news later—and your questions are always welcome. Please continue to pray for God’s wisdom and guidance as we consider this project.
Following the worship service on Sunday, June 28 about 30 people remained for a very informative Question and Answer meeting about the proposed building renovation. Pastor Michael presided over the discussion, but Tom Ochs, Dan Mielke, Chris and Greg Baldwin especially, all addressed concerns and answered questions about the ambitious project. The session voted (and those present concurred) that an architect would be hired to provide a complete set of plans and specs for the renovation. Initial fundraising efforts will begin soon. Pastor Michael with input from Tom Ochs and others is forming two sub-committees, Fund-raising and Building Design, to provide leadership for the next steps. It was agreed that once the architect had completed the drawings, another informational meeting would be called that would include a power point presentation of the proposed design of the first floor.
An informational meeting/discussion was held after worship on Sunday, July 28. In the Session’s attempt to make sure the congregation is involved and aware of all that is going on, the following two items were shared:
Renovation Q&A from the April Newsletter
At the January 25 annual congregational meeting, the session presented a proposal to renovate the first floor level of the church building. The session is very open to hearing questions, concerns and comments. We are thankful for the people we have heard from. Below is an article from Tom Ochs that responds to these questions.
We will be having open Q and A sessions in the near future. (The last one was cancelled due to poor weather keeping attendance very low on that Sunday.) Please note that there are drawings available on a table inside the side door entrance that give a visual representation of what is being proposed. Keep the questions coming!
What is included in the renovation project?
Answer: The renovation covers three areas. The first is to reconfigure the program area (offices, choir room, lounge, gathering place, nursery) so all programs for the church will be in this first floor area. This primarily means moving the social room and kitchen functions to the first floor program area, but as part of the improvements we will upgrade the bathroom facilities and add handicap access from the Sanctuary. The social room will be a multipurpose room that will seat 120 for a meal, can be reconfigured for stage productions, or partitioned for smaller groups. This area will be new and inviting and readily accessible from the Sanctuary.
The second part of the renovation is replacing the steam heating system with a forced air heating and ventilating system with air conditioning for the program area and Sanctuary. The steam system is inefficient, expensive to maintain and heats unevenly. The 100+ year old supply and return piping and antique controls are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate. This will actually provide an annual savings in utility costs and maintenance.
The third part is changes to the front of the Sanctuary. Over time the Sanctuary has been changed, including removing pews from the front and narthex areas. The choir never sing from the choir loft or uses the organ as accompaniment. The piano is used more frequently and Sunny makes several trip each service between organ and piano. It is proposed to extend the pulpit area to be a large stage to make the front more adaptable.. The organ console will be moved to the floor of the Sanctuary. This is the more difficult part of the renovation and could be a separate project completed at a later date.
How much does it cost?
Answer: Because we don’t have a detailed plan from the architect, we can only estimate the cost. Presently we have two estimates, one done by Lami Grubb Architects and one by a general contractor. Both estimates are about $500,000.
Has Session made any decision to proceed with the renovation or have any funds been committed?
Answer: Session discussed these changes and decided it should have a better handle on space configuration, i.e. would the space in the first floor be sufficient to house all the programs of the church, and what was the estimated cost to make the changes described in the first question. Lami Grubb Architects was hired and paid $5,000 to complete the study that resulted in the layout drawing and the estimated cost. Without this information there was nothing to take to the congregation. Other than the architect's fee, no other funds have been authorized. Session felt that this was not just a project of the Session, but one that needed full discussion and support of the whole congregation.
Can we afford this?
Answer: $500,000 is a lot of money for a smaller congregation to spend. On the other hand we have inherited a beautiful but expense building that is showing it’s 100+ years old age, so we need to make decisions on how we will use and maintain the building in the future. Doing nothing is just as much a decision as proceeding with the renovation and none of us knows what the future holds.
We presently have $560,000 in investments. We use the income from the investments as general fund income each year and it totals about $7,000.00. The renovations would save $5,000 to $10,000 per year in utility and maintenance costs, and possibly much more since the steam heating system is old and utility cost will certainly again start to increase. A capital campaign will be necessary in the order of $100,000 to be raised over 5 years. With the church’s 100 giving units, this is an average of $16.67 per month per unit. A loan would also be recommended to keep from using all the investment principal.
What happens to the basement and second floor space?
Answer: The basement and second floor space will not be changed, except for the forced air HVAC. Possibly this space would not be air conditioned. The basement social room, kitchen and Scout’s room will not be improved. All church programs would be held on the first floor. The Social room would continue to be use by the AA and any community groups approved by Session.
Why should we do this?
Answer: As a congregation we need to look forward with optimism. We have a building that is sized for a much larger congregation. Over the years, we continue to use both the basement and the first floor even though all programs can be contained on the first floor. Take a walk from the Sanctuary to the Social Room in the basement and you see that the church is worn and needs to be updated, and there no easy handicap access.
Secondly, the steam heating system is old, inefficient and highly likely to require more maintenance in the coming years. There is no air conditioning and, yes, we can get through the summer months without it, but the fact is that A/C has become a standard requirement in buildings and our home.
Finally, the Sanctuary is majestic but if you look around you will see that it has been changed over the years. The pulpit/platform that uses the space where pews were removed will make the Sanctuary much more friendly to the congregation and more functional for other Sanctuary activities.
With these changes we position the church for the future. Without the changes we gamble that the existing structure and building mechanics will not become increasingly expensive in future years.
Renovation Project Blog
As the Session continues to discuss ideas for the renovations to the interior of the building, updates will be posted to this page. Session wants to hear ideas, so the comments section will be open under each blog update/entry.
First Presbyterian Church of Edgewood | The Community Church | 120 East Swissvale Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15218 | 412-241-4613