Update – May 15, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
If you have driven by the new Meeting House at night you have probably noticed the lights shining throughout the structure. It helps to give a sense of the overall size of our new building. Size has been the topic of a lot of conversations – Is the new building bigger? Higher? Longer? Overall, the new Meeting House will match the old for size, but there are some changes. Because of the reconfigured front steps the entire building is set a little further back from the road. In the old building the section where Pilgrim Hall was located was two stories tall, and now, in order to have access to the balcony, that area is three stories tall. Pilgrim Hall was also not as wide as the Meeting House in the old, but in the new structure, the building is the same width from the front to where it joins the office wing.
In terms of size there also seem to be the matter of changing perspective. One member of the church commented this week that when they were building their new home the construction looked huge some weeks and other weeks it looked small. With all the planning that has gone into this building, we are certain that the ne Meeting House will have plenty of room for us to carry out the ministry and mission of the church as well as storage space.
This week we have seen the roof get covered with plywood and readied for the roofing material. The railings have been added to the stairway and stone work has progressed around the foundation. The mason has also completed the elevator shaft and most of the work on the concrete reinforcement needed for the organ loft.
Several members of the Building Committee visited Stained Glass Resources in Hampden, Mass. to look at samples of the glass that will be used in the new sanctuary windows. The glass, called “Opera Glass” will be basically the same as the stained glass in the old Meeting House. The colors and random patterns will be replicated. In addition to the stained glass, the window in the sanctuary will also have protective clear glass both inside and outside. The clear glass will serve to protect the stained glass, to keep the cold and heat out and will also enhance the acoustics in the sanctuary. The hardware on the windows in the sanctuary will match what was there before. Other windows in the building will be double-hung units that will also match what was there before.
This week the Capital Campaign is in full swing, with letters going out to outline the need and the giving process. We are counting on the support of the congregation and are hoping there will be support for the project from the wider community. As always, you can get in touch with us through the church web site www.somerscongregational.org and you can like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SomersCongUCC.
Update – May 8, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
There are many areas of construction that are complete or very nearly complete now. The structural steel is in place. The primary roof for the building is complete. Concrete slabs have been laid for the floors on the second and third levels. The elevator shaft has been finished and the concrete work that needs to be done around the organ loft is being finished this week.
Over the next few weeks all of the stairways will be brought in and put in place and will eventually be cemented. The stone work on the foundation is nearly complete. Sheathing of the roof and walls will be complete soon and a current goal is to have the entire structure water-tight as soon as possible.
Looking at the building now, you can see where the windows will be. Next week a few of the Building Committee people will be meeting with the stain glass contractor to pick the glass. The goal will be to select glass that is as close to what we had as possible. The wood frames for the windows, both stained and clear, will be milled and ready for installation in the August-September time frame, after which the siding will be installed. This is not as soon as we had hoped to have siding in place, but it reflects the reality of the schedules of various contractors.
The carillon has arrived and is ready to be installed when the time comes. The controls for the carillon will be located in the narthex in an out of the way yet accessible location. As in the old Meeting House, the carillon is an electronic system with speakers in the steeple. We will be able, once again, to play music at preselected times of the day that will be heard throughout the town. We will also be able to use the carillon to ring after weddings, or to play music at other times.
There will be two stairways in the narthex, as there were in the former church; however there will be a significant difference. The stairway in the southwest corner (bank side) of the building will give access to the balcony and the foundation room, while the stairway in the southeast corner will only give access to the balcony. This is the opposite of the stairways in the old Meeting House. The southwest stairway is the emergency exit for all three levels and will have an exit door onto the lawn. The southeast stairway will be the location of the pull rope for the bell. The bell will be rung from the landing between the sanctuary and balcony floors. The logo and motto that were removed from the bell destroyed in the fire will be displayed by the pull rope. It did not seem to make financial sense to try to salvage the old bell, but having the logo and motto on display is a good way to remember the Meeting House we lost.
Another rather noticeable part of the new Meeting House will be an entrance canopy constructed for the current main entrance. This will make it more convenient to get into the offices and will allow one to get out of the weather while getting the door unlocked. We are also improving the lighting around the entrance.
Once the building is weather tight it will be a little harder to see what is going on, but weekly updates will continue to keep everyone abreast of developments as things progress.
Update – May 2, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
We passed a huge and very public milestone as the Bell was hoisted into the steeple yesterday. The Artifacts Committee worked very hard to prepare for the event and it came off without a hitch. The people from Petra Construction, QSR Steel, Avery Construction and the Verdin Bell Company all came through, kept things on schedule and made it possible for us to have a flawless celebration. I have heard estimates of 500 and more people lining the street to watch this historic event. The building of the Meeting House certainly became “real” yesterday afternoon!
The raising of the bell is not the only thing that has been going on at the Meeting House site this week. A couple of days ago when I stepped out of the Rockville Bank and looked toward the Meeting House I was amazed at the number of workers who could be seen scattered all over the structure. There will be more work completed on the steeple and the bell will be enclosed keeping it out of the weather as everything else continues.
The framers have been working to install studs inside and outside the building to which will eventually be attached the sheathing and exterior finished walls and sheetrock on the interior. The roof will also be covered with wood and then shingles. When you look at the walls of the Meeting House now you can see where the windows will be. On the interior the various rooms are being marked out as the studs are put in place.
There have been masons working this week too. On the east side of the building you can see the elevator shaft rising. It is made of concrete blocks and located in the new stair tower in the northeast corner of the Meeting House structure. On the west side of the building stone work is being done. Stones have been brought from Skyline Quarry in Stafford and the veneer of the foundation is being put in place. You can catch a glimpse of this from the bank parking lot. In only a couple of days the same work will be done on the east side of the building and you will be able to see it better from the road and parking lot.
The area where the wall was removed from the Memorial Garden has been inspected and is ready for the new wall and stairway to be built. The stairs that have previously been located in the southeast corner of the garden will be built to line up with the walkway on the south side of the garden. The wall will be rebuilt on either side of the stairway. Once the work is completed the garden will look as good as ever! This work is scheduled for later in the spring or in early summer.
The Building Committee still has a few minor decorating decisions to be made. Working with the pew builder they will be deciding how the bottom of the pews will be finished. Under the seats the kickboard will not go all the way to the floor. The ends of the pews on the aisles could be painted white, or there could be a kickboard there which would be stained to match the other wood in the sanctuary. The final design of the chancel furniture will be selected in the next week or so and the design for the pulpit chosen. All of the furniture in the chancel will be moveable, allowing for flexibility.
The Capital Campaign Committee is hard at work securing the necessary funds to complete the project. You have probably heard from them and will be hearing more. Members of the church are invited to make financial commitments to the project over two years. Friends of the church are invited to contribute through our website (www.somerscongregational.org ) or by sending contributions to the church (PO Box 295, Somers CT 06071).
We hope you will “LIKE” and follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SomersCongUCC .
Update – April 24, 2013
The Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
Early Tuesday afternoon Mark Marschall, chair of the Building Committee, came into the church office to officially claim the title of “first to announce you can see the steeple as you drive down route 190 into town.” There were indeed steel beams standing up above the roof line making it clear where the steeple will be. There have been many asking if the new Meeting House will be higher and larger than the old – basically the new and old are the same size. Our eyes are playing tricks on us as we try to gauge how high the old steeple stood in comparison to the steel beams.
Plans are pretty much completed for the Celebration of the Bell Raising on May 1. We will gather near the Meeting House with the bell on the ground for a brief dedication service after which the bell and its yoke will be hoisted into place by the crane that is on site. The bell will be bolted into position to be enclosed for protection from the elements. There will be refreshments in room 206 following the dedication. The raising of the bell will mark the conclusion of steel erection for the new Meeting House.
The stairs will be delivered with the last of the steel and put in place. The mason will be on site next week to begin working on the elevator shaft and then to install extra masonry that will hold up the organ. The mason will also take care of finishing the stairs.
By the time you read this work will have begun on the metal framing for the walls throughout the Meeting House to prepare them for sheetrock. The roof sheathing will also be in place in the next couple of weeks. The windows being installed are custom made, so there will be plastic covering the window openings while the windows are crafted. Doorframes will also be installed. With the Meeting House buttoned up and protected from the elements work can continue uninterrupted for the next few months until everything is done.
Prep work has been virtually completed on the west side of the property and oil and propane tanks are in place.
We are still in the process of coming to a final agreement with the Insurance Company. Our construction manager has provided all material requested by the insurance adjuster, so we hope things will move ahead very soon. In the meantime we have begun the Capital Fund Campaign and are inviting friends and neighbors in the community to contribute to the building of our fourth Meeting House.
One of the ongoing discussions the Building Committee has had is about the location of a “history wall” in our new facility. We are committed to sharing the story of our church’s past with everyone as we had done with the history wall in the Foundation Room. The exact location, design and content of a history display will be worked out as we prepare to move into and use our new space.
Please remember, the area inside the construction fence is restricted and trespassing is strictly forbidden.
Update - April 17, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The bell hoisting will be on May 1 at 4 P.M. This will be a wonderful celebration for the whole community. Our Artifacts Committee is making plans so more details will follow at a later date, but there are a few things that are sure. There will be a brief dedication service with some comments and music. There will be a cordoned off area for spectators to view the crane hoisting the bell. There will be refreshments. Mark your calendar.
This is one of the non-meeting weeks for the Building Committee, but there is still plenty going on around the Meeting House site. The steel is still being put in place and driving by you can see the roof line and the eaves. By the end of this week the decks for the second and third floors should have been poured. There is far more steel in place now than there is to put in place!
Our stone mason has put up a couple of examples of how the cut stone will look on the foundation. I think I have mentioned before that the stone will come from Skyline Quarry in Stafford Springs. In papers regarding the building of the 1842 Meeting House there is mention of the stone coming from the mountain – about as local as we can get. We are trying to keep this tradition with our materials as well.
The Building Committee has put a lot of consideration into the design of the new Foundation Room. The dimensions will be about the same as the previous dining room, but there are some notable improvements. The ceiling will be nearly a foot higher. The hallway from the office to the dining room now will run along the east outside wall of the building, so it will be wider and lighter. There will be a slight ramp because the dining room floor is seven inches lower than the office, but the slope should be hardly noticeable. The hallway will lead directly into the dining room and there will be no “pantry” between the kitchen and dining room. Extra storage has been planned into the kitchen and one wall of the Foundation Room to make up for what we will lose from the pantry. One new feature in the dining room will be a fairly large island that will have space for coffee hour storage. It will also have electrical connections so coffee can be made on the island and simply removed for larger dinners or other events.
It is rather difficult to describe, but the window in the Foundation Room will be different as well. They will provide more light and a view of the outside the former windows did not. On the south end of the room, opposite the kitchen, there will be an exit on the west (bank) side. This will also be the location of the stairway to the second and third floor. This stairway will meet code. In the southeast corner of the dining room there will be a large closet that will provide storage for some outside groups, and will be large enough to be used as a “bride’s room” as well. There will be a vanity with mirror and a place for a bride and her attendants to wait before the ceremony. There will also be an audio and perhaps video feed to the bride’s room so the wedding party will know where they are in their waiting.
Please remember that the area inside the fence is a restricted area. No one is allowed inside that area without a hardhat and someone from Petra accompanying them.
Update – April 9, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
There is growing excitement about the new Meeting House and all the work that is being done on the site and everyone wants to see what is going on. Safety is a real concern, though, and we need to keep in mind that this is an active work site. NO ONE is allowed inside the construction fence unless accompanied by the Site Manager and wearing a hard hat. Although the construction looks strong and stable there are places where it is neither and trespassing inside the fence is dangerous. Everyone’s cooperation is keeping the project moving ahead without injury.
The digging that needed to be done across the Bank of America driveway has been completed and conduits needed for electrical, cable and phone systems have been installed. The pad for the transformer is in place and necessary water lines for the fire suppression system are also in place. Oil and gas tanks are due to be installed underground this week.
Steel work has been going very well and within the next few days work will begin on the decking. The concrete decking for the third and second floors should be done this week. Framing has been started on the lower level and a lot of framing work, as well as installation of some mechanical items and electrical is set to be installed the week of April 22.
This week the mason should be bringing samples of the stone to be used in facing the foundation and steps. A wall will be set up for the Building Committee’s review, to check on size and color of the granite pieces. We are glad to be able to secure the stone we need from Skyline Quarry in Stafford Springs. Eventually two cornerstones will be installed at the front of the building. The stones will be two salvaged from the former church foundation. One will be inscribed with 1727, the year the church was gathered, and the other with 2013, the year the fourth Meeting House will be dedicated.
The Building Committee reviewed the Construction Schedule and can happily report that we are on schedule. The committee discussed interior doors to be installed throughout the Meeting House and were somewhat surprised to learn that there are forty-eight of them needed. Work on the pews is being coordinated. The pews will be built to match the furniture in the chancel – the communion table, flower stands, baptismal font and pulpit.
We are still in the process of determining the scope of the security system to be installed. Our goal is to maintain the safety and security of the building while still being as open as possible to individuals and community groups. The security system will be designed to link in with the fire alarm system and cover the entire facility.
Our latest word is that the bell is due to arrive during the week of April 22, though we have not been able to nail down the exact date. Once we know for sure when it will be here we will set the time for the dedication and the official bell raising. Watch this space, the church website and the church Facebook page for the latest news on this.
Update – April 3, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
Anyone who has driven by the church has surely noticed that there has been a lot going on. We still have about 50% of the steel in place, with more to come this week. Yesterday there were trusses being assembled to be lifted into place as soon as the crane is back on site. The decking has been going into place to be ready for the concrete at a future date. The steel installation and the concrete pouring have to be coordinated to avoid problems.
Avery Construction has been busy on the west side of the site getting everything ready for the water, drainage and electrical installations. The pad is in place for the transformer which will be installed in the very near future. A large “tamper” has been used to get all the soil on the west side settled as work is completed and each time it used the office and Bugbee wings feel the tremor, reminding us that progress is being made.
We had word from the Verdin Company that they encountered a problem when they cast the yoke which will hold the bell and so have had to recast the yoke. This has set the bell delivery back about a week and it is now expected to arrive during the week of April 22. The Artifacts Committee is working on a Dedication service which will be held before the bell is raised into the steeple. We will announce the time and date of the dedication here and on our web site (www.somerscongregational.org) and Facebook page as soon as we know when it will be. Everyone is invited to watch this historic event. The bell will be installed in the yoke and the yoke and bell will be lifted onto a permanent platform in the steeple. Because the steeple will not be finished at that time, the bell and yoke will be encased in a protective box safe from the elements.
Continuing to describe areas of the new Meeting House, we turn our attention to the second floor area between the sanctuary and the office wing. This is where Pilgrim Hall was in the former building. The space will now be divided into two rooms. On the west side of the building, facing the bank and overlooking the lawn and Memorial Garden, there will be a new Pilgrim Hall. It will be furnished with the same kind of living room furniture the previous Pilgrim Hall had and will provide a quiet space for some meetings, and small receptions. This will also be the space where a family might gather before a funeral or a groom wait before a wedding. Between Pilgrim Hall and the hallway leading from the elevator to the sanctuary there will be a meeting room which will have a round table and chairs making it a good place for a Board or Committee to meet or to hold a small adult class. This separate meeting room will serve a purpose similar to that of the dining room furniture in the previous Pilgrim Hall. Also similar to the old building, there will be windows between the meeting room and the hallway. The hallway will be spacious and flow directly from the second floor lobby to the sanctuary, with no ante-room. There will be a short hallway between Pilgrim hall and the main hallway with access to the Care Center.
We should have the crane back on site this week to install the rest of the steel. Following that, the crews will arrive to do sheathing and roofing. Within the next few weeks the outside of our new Meeting House will be clearly in view from all over town.
Update – March 26, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
Today there is digging going on in the front of the church lot. The water for the site is being connected and we are making good use of the Permit we got last week from the Department of Transportation. The scheduling for connecting to the power line in front of the bank is still in process, but will be done soon. In the midst of this, the necessary pipes are being installed for all the roof drainage on the site. Everything that needs to be done on the site between the building and the street should be completed by the end of next week.
The steel is about 50% complete. Everything to the second floor should be done by the middle of this week. The concrete for the floors should be put in place by the end of the week or the beginning of next week. When that has been done the rest of the steel will be brought in and put in place, completing the structure to the third floor and up to the roof and steeple. The steel company will be bringing a beam that has been painted white which will be made available for various people to sign before it is put in place. Further notice of this will be forthcoming once we know the exact timing.
The bell will be on site and ready to be placed in the steeple during the week of April 8. As of this writing there is still some wiggle room in terms of exact timing, so you are urged to watch this update and the Church website and Facebook page for further details. (www.somerscongregational.org) There will be a brief dedication service for the bell, with refreshments following. We had given some thought to trying to schedule the bell placement on a weekend, but discovered that it would be very expensive to have the crane available at a special time. We are doing our best to make the best use of our resources.
The contract for building the pews and chancel furniture should be ready to be awarded early next week. There will be eleven rows of pews on the main sanctuary floor, as there were in the former Meeting House. The two side aisle and center aisle will be recreated, though there will be some changes. There will be no partition between the center and side pews, but there will be an arm rest dividing them in two. There will be an open space under the pews rather than a kick board going all the way to the floor. Pew back and armrests will be made of mahogany and stained to be a color similar to the former pews. Pews on the main sanctuary level will have cushions, but the balcony pews will, for acoustic reasons, still be cushionless. There will be racks for hymnals, bibles, pencils and pew cards on the backs of the pews. We are also adding a modesty partition in front of the first row of pews to separate them from the chancel area.
Although there were some delays in construction due to the weather and a hold up with the steel production, we have made up the time and are now on schedule. Contractors have worked hard to keep things moving at the pace necessary to complete the project in good time.
We are still in the process of determining the type and extent of the security system to be installed in our new facility. There will be a combination of motion detectors, video cameras and sensors that will work together to allow us to secure various parts of the building when they are not in use, even as activities go on in other areas. This system will be integrated into the fire alarm system we have installed in the Bugbee and office wings of the facility. Our goal is to create and maintain a safe and comfortable facility for all who use it while protecting people and property from harm and damage.
Update – March 20, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
I am happy to report there has been a good deal of movement on several fronts this week. The most noticeable is, of course, the steel that is rising from the foundation. With the upright beams and many of the cross pieces in place the outline of the church is becoming visible. The separate floors are obvious, and there are beams marking the balcony, loft and chancel. It is also possible to see where the ramp will run from the lobby to the foundation room and where the walk-in cooler will sit. I have heard a lot of positive and encouraging comments from people everywhere I have gone this week. The snow and ice on Tuesday meant a no work day, but Wednesday morning things were moving along at a good clip again.
We have secured and recorded the necessary permit from the state Department of Transportation so work can move ahead with getting the power line run from the pole to the site of our new transformer. While this has really not held things up at this point, it is nice to have the go ahead which will make it easier to complete the site work on the west side of the building as the snow melts.
The bell, which many of us watched being cast on March 1, will be lifted into place in the steeple sometime between April 5 and 15. Although we had thought this would happen in mid-summer, the timing was moved up in order to make use of the crane that is onsite lifting the steel. The logistics of placing a thousand pound bell in the steeple once it had been constructed would have been a nightmare, so putting it in place sooner and building a temporary protective box around it makes sense. Because this will be a momentous occasion, once we know a more exact date and time we will get the word out to everyone.
The Restoration Committee announced this week that the work in the Bugbee and Office wings of our facility is done and they have signed off with Green Construction and Restoration on that work. We have a top rate facility that is providing great space for ministry. We do still have a temporary boiler in the first floor lobby which will be removed when the boiler has been installed in the new Meeting House. Green Construction and Restoration, which installed the temporary boiler, will be back to remove it and to return the lobby wall, ceiling and floor to pre-fire condition. Also at that time the door between the office wing and the Meeting House will be cut through the wall.
Conversation continues with the Insurance Company as we move closer to a final settlement. The majority of our losses have been addressed and we have agreed to many parts of the settlement, but there remain a few, but significant, items to be settled. With the Capital Campaign now moving forward we are hopeful that clear numbers will be available any day now.
Our latest update from Richards Fowkes & Company on progress being made building the organ indicates that March has been a very busy month with various parts of the organ being created. The pipes are more than 50% complete. Windchests, action, bench, case and keyboards are all in the works. Many of the separate components are crafted so they are ready for assembly as the organ comes together.
It is amazing to think that day by day here in Somers and in several other locations, our new Meeting House is coming together as construction and crafts people create the components for us.
Update - March 13, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The steel began arriving on site Tuesday morning. A crane was here to unload the first load of steel, but then left and was replaced by a larger crane which is erecting the rest of the steel. Already some of the beams have been placed on the foundation. The progress will be noticeable as the structure rises fairly quickly.
At the March 12 meeting of the Building Committee a couple more bid packages were approved so contracts can be signed. The “custom” window package is all set, including all the windows in the Meeting House and the sanctuary. The package for kitchen equipment was reviewed and some items were switched out to reduce cost without reducing the effectiveness of the kitchen. The insulation package is being reviewed and we discussed the extent of insulation needed between the foundation room and the sanctuary. The flooring contract has been awarded to the same firm that has installed the flooring in the Bugbee and Office wings during their restoration.
The Building Committee had a teleconference with Dan Clayton, our acoustician. Tyler Cass, chair of the church Technology Committee was also present for the teleconference. Mr. Clayton had sent drawings of plans for the various telephone, data and audio/visual components that will be included in the Meeting House which were reviewed. A top notch system will be installed in the sanctuary and a very good system in the Foundation Room. There will be some allowance made for equipment to be installed at a later time linking the Care Center and meeting rooms to the sanctuary. Everything installed in the Meeting House will be compatible with what has already been installed in the Bugbee and Office wings and much of the installation will be completed by the same company we used in those wings.
Work has not yet been done to get electrical service from the pole in front of the bank to the transformer on the church site. We continue to hope to receive the necessary response from the management company that owns the property. While this has not held up the progress of the project yet, we would really like to get this taken care of. The site work will continue to be done on the west side of the building.
There will be a meeting this week between Rick Skodinski of our Insurance Committee and a representative of Utica Insurance Company to move us on toward a final settlement of the insurance claim. Although we have received some communication from Utica we have not yet determined what the settlement will be.
The Capital Campaign Committee and several of its sub-committees have met during the past week and planning for the Campaign is progressing nicely. Members of the Campaign Committee will be recognized during a Dedication Service on Palm Sunday. Campaign materials are being put together and soon we will be sharing the vision for the future church with a wide audience. We hope to invite everyone who has shown an interest in our rebuilding to be a part of this exciting project.
Update – March 6, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The Building Committee had not planned on Meeting this week, but it turned out there were things we needed to address. We have received word from our architects, Clohessy, Harris and Kaiser that Hugh Schweitzer, who has been the lead architect from the firm working with us for the past year, will be leaving them at the end of this week. Hugh has worked very closely with the Committee and has gotten to know the church, our needs, our wants and even our quirks very well. We all feel we could not have made the progress we have made without Hugh’s presence, guidance and caring this past year. He will be greatly missed.
One of the reasons we chose CHK as our architects a year ago was that the firm is big enough to have several qualified architects on their staff. Steve Hine will be working with us to complete the Meeting House project. Steve has been working with Hugh Schweitzer through the process and is very familiar with our project and well qualified to work with us directly. At this point the design work is 99% complete and all that remains is some tweaking of the design as the work progresses. The thrust now is about building the meeting house and Steve will be working with Petra Construction to be sure everything comes together as it should. Most of the bids for critical work have been received and contracts awarded, so we are in good shape and the Committee has full confidence in Steve and the work we will complete with him. He will begin meeting with the Committee next week.
The Insurance and Building Committees have received communication from Utica Insurance Company regarding issues raised at the January 21 meeting between the church and Insurance Company. We have been waiting for this response and it moves us closer to a settlement which we are expecting to be given in the very near future.
There has been an unexplained delay in the delivery of our steel, which was supposed to have arrived on March 6. Now we have been assured that there will be steel arriving on site March 9 or 10 and the crane and steel workers will arrive on site Monday, March 11. This means that the work is scheduled to begin on March 11. As the steel arrives it is removed from the trailers by the crane and put in place on the structure. The construction should take place fairly quickly with the framing of the church arising from foundation day by day.
Work to install electric lines from the pole in front of Bank of American to the transformer on the church site should also be done in the very near future. Although there seem to be delays on several fronts, the overall construction schedule has not been changed and we are moving ahead. The Building Committee feels fortunate to have the guidance of the team from Petra as issues arise. Their experience and knowledge in construction have helped us better understand what is going on and to relax about scheduling and other elements beyond our control.
We hope to be making final decisions about the extent of the audio visual equipment for the Meeting House next week, completing another important phase of the project.
Update – February 27, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
It has been a quiet week around the Meeting House site, but there has still been a lot going on behind the scenes and progress continues to be made. Although the steel delivery has been delayed for a few days, it will arrive in the middle of the first week of March. The crane used for installation will arrive on site at the same time as the steel and work on erecting the structure will begin on that day. The fabricated steel will arrive on trucks in the order in which it is to be installed, ready for lifting and fitting. There will be more than a few people who will want to get some pictures of that work as it is taking place.
We are still waiting for the needed approval to move ahead with the electrical work, running a line from the pole in front of Bank of America to the southwest corner of our property. Another meeting has been scheduled and work should progress in the very near future. This is not holding up the project, but we are looking forward to getting this work done. Avery Construction is ready to finish that work and the site work on the west side of the building. When weather allows in the spring we will be able to have the Memorial Garden wall put back. The stair for the Memorial Garden will be done later, once it is clear there is no danger of them being damaged during work on the Meeting House.
Some members of the Building Committee went for a tour of the Skyline Quarry in Stafford, which will be the source of the granite facing to be used on the foundation and front steps. A couple of pieces of granite from the old Meeting House will be re-purposed as decorative corner stones, with dates, when the foundation is faced. Members of the Committee also met with representatives of companies that are bidding on the installation of the sanctuary windows. A decision about that contract should be made in the very near future.
We have received the necessary drawings from our Acoustician and they are being reviewed by the Building Committee and the Technology Committee. We will be defining the scope of the work to be done in terms of sound and visual equipment installation in the sanctuary, foundation room, Pilgrim Hall, meeting room and Care Room. Sound in the sanctuary will be the first priority and then we will determine how we can best connect the Care Room to the sanctuary in a way that allows people watching the children to know what is going on in the sanctuary. Sound enhancement in the Foundation Room will also be determined. We want to have the best possible systems while keeping costs at a reasonable level.
No word has come yet regarding the insurance settlement, but we are hopeful that we will have word within the next week or so. After we hear from Utica we will determine our next steps and let the congregation know the impact of the settlement on the upcoming Capital Campaign.
Susan Mitchell, who is our Capital Campaign Consultant form the United Church of Christ will be in Somers from March 6th through the 9th meeting with the leadership of the Campaign and getting details worked out. The planning and preparation for the Campaign will be underway leading up to the visitations and celebration by the end of May.
The Building Committee continues to try to keep the congregation and community informed about the progress we are making and of the delays we may experience. Once the settlement is completed we will be able to clear up some of the financial questions people are raising. The hope is that if members of the congregation have questions and concerns they will address them to members of the committee (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are doing our best to avoid a lot of rumors by sharing as much information as possible with everyone.
Update – February 20, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The blizzard had more of an effect on us that we had realized. We have received word that because of the difficult travel conditions, QSR Steel Corporation in Hartford, who is supplying all the steel for our job was unable to get some of the raw material needed in the manufacturing of the pieces we need. This means that there will be a four or five day delay in the delivery of our steel. Petra Construction has assured us that this brief delay will not influence the overall timetable of the project, but rather than steel rising March 1, there should be action on March 6 or 7. We are hoping for no further delay with the steel.
This week the Restoration Committee had a walk through the Green Construction and Restoration to go through the final “punch list” and determine when the Bugbee and Office wings of the facility will be completed. For the most part the issues to be addressed are minor, many taken care of the same day as the walk-through, and the rest will be cleared up as soon as needed materials have been delivered.
The Verdin Company in Cincinnati has scheduled the casting of the bell for Friday, March 1 at 2 P.M. Cheryl and David Anderson, from the church, are planning on being present at the foundry for the casting. The Verdin Company will also provide a live webcast of the casting which will be available through their website, in addition to supplying us with a video of the casting once it is done. All the necessary plans and drawings have been approved so we will be ready for the bell when it arrives mid-summer.
Several bid packages recommended by Petra have been accepted by the Building Committee. The elevator package has been awarded to Kone Inc. of Rocky Hill. The Plumbing contract has been awarded to Michael Sheehy Plumbing and Heating LLC of Yalesville, and the same company was awarded the contract for Fire Protection and Sprinkler System. The Building Committee is in the process of reviewing recommendations from Petra Construction for the contracts for Mortar, Unit Masonry and Cut Stone, Wood Windows (all windows except stained glass), Metal doors, frames, wood doors and finish hardware, and plastering. Once these recommendations are reviewed and approved by the Building Committee contracts will be awarded in these areas as well. Within the next several weeks we will have contracts signed for all the work needed to build the new Meeting House.
Next week we will be meeting with our acoustics expert and representatives of our Tech Committee to make final decisions about the audio-visual equipment to be installed. We have made a commitment to install the complete package in the sanctuary and to make certain other rooms in the complex are ready for installation of audio-visual equipment that might not be included in the initial build but will be scheduled to be added at a future date. This means that there may be an audio hook-up in the Care Room with the capacity for an added visual component at a later date. Audio-Visual components will be more extensive in the Foundation Room, making it more usable for presentations and lectures.
We have heard nothing about our settlement with Utica since the meeting that took place on January 21. All the material requested by Utica was provided to them within a couple days of that meeting, so we are waiting for their experts to review the materials and get back to us. This seems like it should be the last step before a settlement is reached in terms of coverage for the building. The contents settlement will be reached at the same time.
The next scheduled meeting of the Building Committee is 8 A.M. on Tuesday, February 26.
Update – February 13, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
We did not have a chance to get the concrete slab poured before the snow fell on Friday and Saturday, but the area is currently being cleared of snow and the floor of the dining room should be poured by the end of the week – and the next expected snow. All the conduits for plumbing, hv/ac and water have been put in place, various drains are set and a seal that goes under the concrete has been laid. This all makes clearing the snow and having the concrete slab poured make sense at this time. While the slab could be poured after the steel work is done, the possibility of damage to conduit or seal is real and we do not want to have to redo things that have been done.
Avery Construction is continuing work on the site. All the backfilling is done, so the foundation that is above ground now will remain so. Work to be done on the west side of the building that includes oil and gas tanks, fire water pipes and other conduits will be finished in the near future. The crane that will be onsite to put up the steel will be located on the east side of the building, on the driveway, so the west side will be graded and readied for final landscaping to be done next summer.
Steel should arrive on site on March 1 with erection work beginning the next week.
We have received the recommendation for stone work and masonry contracts, which should be signed soon. The granite used on the steps and foundation and in other locations in the building will come from Skyline Quarry in Stafford, in keeping with our desire to keep things as local as possible. The granite that was in the old foundation and steps was compromised by the heat, water and cold at the time of the fire, so cannot be used in the new building. The Building Committee and Artifacts Committee are working to find some other uses for the old granite, perhaps in a retaining wall, or as benches or tables.
We are close to being able to accept bids for the window and stain glass window work. Much consideration has been given to having the window look as much like the old windows as possible. The Building Committee is also in the process of selecting the interior finish of the elevator. Pews, pew cushions and sanctuary furniture selections have also been pretty much determined and bids are being sought.
One of the areas that is still being worked out is related to security. It is the Building Committee’s intention to have a burglar alarm tied into the fire alarm system that has already been installed. The extent of the security system is still being determined. The committee is balancing the need to keep the building and people in it safe, while maintaining as open a facility as possible. Our heritage as a place where the community can gather for all kinds of events and activities is important.
The Building Committee, having met at least once a week since January 9, 2012, has reached a point in the process where weekly meetings are not needed and is moving to meet every other week. They have, of course, made the commitment to meet any week necessary to keep the project moving along as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Update – February 7, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
There was some excitement at the church this week because the storage trailer which has been parked in the back of the parking lot and was filled with items destroyed by the fire was finally removed. Very early on in the clean-up, items had to be decontaminated and then put in the trailer until the insurance company could determine their value. This was completed in the early summer and now the trailer has been removed.
Although restoration of the Bugbee and Office wings is virtually completed, there are still a few items on the “punch list” to be completed before we can sign off on the project. Green Construction and Restoration (GC&R) is responsible to make sure the work they have done is acceptable and complete. There are several doors they installed that do not close correctly, there are holes left in walls and ceilings from the phone and alarm system installation they were supposed to have repaired and molding they installed in room 204 needs to be replaced because it is the wrong kind. There is also a problem with the temporary heating system which we told GC&R about several weeks ago, but has not yet been addressed. To complete the punch list we are hoping that the project manager from GC&R will be on site to do a walk-through with the Restoration Committee next week.
The company that is fabricating the steel has run into a problem which will cause a delay in delivery from February 15 to March 1. We have been assured that the time lost will be made up during the steel erection process so that the project will remain on schedule. The exterior walls of the Meeting House are scheduled to be up by April 1.
There are about a dozen bid packages that have been sent to various contractors so they can submit proposals. These bid packages describe the scope of work, time, financial and other requirements a contractor must meet. The contractors put together a bid in response to the package, submit it to Petra Construction who reviews and rates the proposals and then recommends a contractor to the Building Committee. The Building Committee makes a decision based on Petra’s recommendation and the contract is awarded by Petra. All construction bids are handled this way.
The Building Committee is making final decisions about furniture for the various rooms in the Meeting House. We have received and reviewed recommendations from the Design team at CHK architects, and done some research as well. We are committed to furnishing the new Meeting House with sturdy, long-lasting, style-appropriate pieces. Thought has been given to storage and ease of movement for the furniture that will not be in a permanent location, such as tables and chairs in the dining room. Members of the committee and church who have had experience setting up and putting away tables and chairs in the old church have had great advice and ideas for us as new furniture has been chosen.
The Building Committee had hoped to be able to meet every other week rather than every week starting in February, but there are some important discussions coming up with the acoustician and decisions to be made about audio/visual and technological components to be made in the very near future, so the committee is holding to a weekly schedule.
Update – January 30, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The cold and rainy weather have slowed us down just a little bit this week, making it impossible for the concrete work to move ahead as quickly as we had hoped. The delay will not affect the long term time schedule, however. Work has continued on backfilling around the foundation. By the end of this week or early next week concrete will be poured for the front steps and for the dining room floor.
Conduit was run in the office wing last week. This will be used for the wiring that will connect the entire facility to the power at the transformer on the lawn. We are still waiting to get an official easement from the owners of the Bank of America property so that the power can be run from the pole to the church site. While this is not holding up progress on the project, the sooner this work can be done the better it will be overall.
The Building Committee discussed upcoming benchmarks. The arrival of the steel and the beginning of the framing in mid-February will be the next, followed by the “topping off” ceremony when the steel work is done. Steel workers traditionally place an evergreen tree at the top of a structure when the steel work is completed without injury. The top of the steeple will be seventy-eight feet from the sidewalk at the front of the Meeting House. In the summer we will make note of the day the bell arrives and is hoisted into the steeple, and in early fall the organ will be brought and put in place. The cornerstones will be put in place at an appropriate time, perhaps in conjunction with Homecoming Sunday in September. Finally, when the building is complete there will be a gala dedication of the Meeting House, a dedication of the organ and an Open House for the community. We hope to have the Church Council appoint a “Celebration Committee” to coordinate these benchmarks celebrations with one another and with other events and activities of the church.
The Value Engineering has been nearly completed, with only three items left from the list of possible savings to be considered. The Building Committee has discussed these items with the architect, the construction manager and among themselves at length in order to make the best decisions for the project. While some savings is identified we will not know the effect of the changes on the cost of the Meeting House until the end of the project. There are many variables that come into play over the course of construction.
Decisions have been made about the design of furniture in Pilgrim Hall, the meeting room and sanctuary. Careful consideration was given to style, cost and durability. The Building Committee is very aware that what is put in place in the new Meeting House will need to serve generations of church goers over an extended amount of time. They have taken into account the many comments received form members of the church since the beginning of the project.
Next week the Committee plans to teleconference with Dan Clayton, our acoustician and to make some decisions about audio visual components to be used in the sanctuary, dining room and other areas of the building.
We have word that work on the organ is progressing nicely and we have a sample pipe.
Update - January 23, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The bitter cold has slowed down the arrival of the concrete for a few days. Fortunately there are several “contingency” days planned into the total build schedule, so the delay will not affect the overall schedule. While waiting for the temperature to climb to an acceptable level, however, the crews are still at work at the site. They are completing all the necessary work to have everything that needs to be under the slab in place so the slab can be poured in the near future.
Once the weather cooperates, areas that will be under stairways will be backfilled and the forms for the stairway concrete will be put in place. In addition to the grand front entry stairways there will also be two stairways on the west exterior of the building: one an exit in the south west corner and the other an entrance exit to the new mechanical room in the northwest corner of the new structure. All the work for drainage around the foundation has been done and there will be some backfilling done on the west side this week.
There is a need to run conduit from the existing utility room in the office wing to the new construction. This will be done on January 25th when the office is closed. This conduit will allow all the needed utilities (electric, phone, cable) to be connected to our existing service when everything is in place.
The Building Committee has continued working with CHK and Petra Construction on “Value Engineering”; looking at possible changes in the plans that would lead to a savings. Each suggestion (and there are over 20) is discussed, input is received from the architect, the construction manager and any other experts who would have pertinent input and a decision in made. Value Engineering happens at this point so any changes made will not interrupt the flow of construction further along in the process. The Committee has been especially conscious of how the construction will affect acoustics in the sanctuary because we want to be sure we can make full use of the organ being installed.
We have received a sample pipe from the organ builder so everyone can see the tin being used in their construction and begin to picture what the choir loft will look like with the organ installed.
The Verdin Bell Company has let us know that casting will take place at the end of May in Cincinnati. They would be happy to have anyone who is interested from the church view this first hand at their foundry, but they will also stream a video of the casting on the web. The bell will be done by mid-June in plenty of time for mid-July installation.
The subcommittee on sanctuary furniture presented their recommendations for choir chairs, pulpit, baptismal font, communion table, flower and incidental tables and chancel chairs. These were accepted with only minor tweaking.
There are a few final design decisions the Building Committee hopes to make next week in the process of finishing up the Value Engineering.
Update - January 15, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
This week, seventy-six yards of concrete have been poured for the piers and colonnade at the front of the Meeting House. With the forms removed, we will be able to see just where the front of the Meeting house will be and get a sense of how it will be when the building construction has been completed. While that has been going on there has also been under-slab plumbing and electrical work in preparation for the pouring of the slab in the near future. Each section of the foundation has been waterproofed as it cured. All reports indicate that the concrete is setting well and we are moving ahead with the project right on schedule.
We are still waiting for the official notice of easement form the owners of the Bank of America property and for word from our insurance company that they are ready to offer a settlement. Both of these are expected in the next week or so. The easement will make it possible to continue with construction on schedule.
Reaching a settlement with the insurance company will move us ahead in many ways. We are aware of the fact that construction of the new Meeting House will cost more than the amount of money we will receive in the settlement but we are not yet able to identify how much more. Once we know the amount of the settlement we will know how much will remain for us to raise. At a special meeting of the congregation in November, authorization was given for the Church Council to move ahead with a Capital Campaign to raise necessary funds for the completion of the Meeting House. Once we know how much we need to raise we will be able to contract with United Church of Christ Capital Campaign Services to put the campaign into motion.
The Building Committee has conducted several informational meeting with Boards and Committees of the church, “walking” members through the floor plans and describing the ways in which the new Meeting House will be the same as the old, and the ways it will be different. There will be another informational meeting on Monday, January 21 at 7 P.M. in room 204 in the office wing which will be open to anyone who would like a chance to hear about the plans and see the drawings. As groups have asked questions we have done our best to answer them and when the answers were not readily available we have done the research and gotten back to the group. As always, our first priority is to have this process open and available so that everyone in the congregation has a clear picture of where we are and what the future will hold.
Work continues on “value engineering”, reviewing the plans looking for cost savings and making sure we will get the best value for the money we spend. It is a challenge to balance our commitment to being historically accurate, acoustically sound and aesthetically pleasing while getting the most value out of every dollar we spend. Since this is our commitment, however, the Building Committee is confident that the new Meeting House will meet the expectations of the wide variety of people who will eventually be using it.
The steel should arrive on site by mid-February and the Meeting House will rise right before our eyes over the following weeks.
Update - January 9, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
Concrete work continues at the Meeting House. This week you should see the front colonnade and piers for the columns at the front of the building and soon you will see the front steps. The concrete for the front steps will eventually be faced with several inches of granite, resulting in the same look as the steps destroyed in the fire. The new steps will have a shorter rise and a longer tread, in keeping with code requirements. The granite blocks from the old steps were made unusable by the heat and water during the fire. Pieces from the old steps will be used as decorative corner stones on the new building and may be used for benches on the grounds.
Work continues on placing conduit that will be under the dining room floor. Once those are in place and finished the slab will be poured. We are still waiting on an official easement from the management company that owns the Bank of America building so the work can be done to bring electricity from the pole in front of the bank under their driveway and to a transformer that will be installed at the southwest corner of our lot. The work will be completed in just a day or two once the easement is in the hands of the state Department of Transportation.
Our construction timeline has not changed. At this point the completion date for the Meeting House is late October or early November, 2013. The drywall and framing contract has been awarded as have the HVAC contract and the Electrical and Lightning protection contract. The elevator contract is being reviewed. Bidding has been very competitive.
Work on the organ continues and the folks at Richards, Fowkes and Company report several stops have been completed, including the Great, Hohlflote 8, Swell, Gedackt 8, Spitzflote 4, Nasat 3 and Tierce 1 3/5. Wood for the keyboards is being kiln dried through a rigorous process, to insure there is no warping once the organ is completed.
The Building Committee had a lengthy discussion about “value engineering” which is basically looking at the plans we have and determining if there are specific things that can be changed in order to lower costs. The process includes many possible changes, even though some are obviously not things we would seriously consider, such as not installing stained glass windows, or leaving the floor in the sanctuary concrete rather than installing hardwood and carpet. Some smaller changes can be made without affecting the overall look and feel of the project. This is an ongoing discussion, though most decisions need to be made in the near future to avoid disrupting the construction schedule. We will be talking with our acoustician about some audio visual component and with the kitchen designer about alternative appliances. We are doing our best to balance cost against reliability, realizing that most of the things we put in the new construction will be there for the next generation of church members.
There is no word yet on when the settlement with the insurance company will be completed. The settlement will enable us to know where we stand and allow us to begin a capital campaign to raise the additional funds needed to replace the Meeting House.
The Building Committee continues to meet with the boards and committees of the church to share plans. There is a schedule of presentations in the January issue of Highlights and in the church bulletin each Sunday. Each committee presentation is open to anyone from the church and there will be an additional presentation open to everyone following the Community Supper on January 15. We hope as many people as possible will take advantage of the opportunity to see what the plans contain and to share the vision of the new Meeting House.
Update - January 3, 2013
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
As the Building Committee gathered on Wednesday morning we were quite aware that we had passed the one year anniversary of the Meeting House fire. On January 2, 2012 many of us had spent most of the day standing next to the destroyed building, sharing grief and hugs and determination that we would move forward and the church would be rebuilt. The large gathering in the Town Hall for our noontime prayer service was evidence that church members and the entire community were coming together to respond and to find strength and support in one another. We sang, with enthusiasm, “God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar, we your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever more.” An unbelievable journey it has been!
Good progress is being made. The foundation is complete, the footings and forms have been set for the elevator tower and the front steps and pillars and those should be in place in the next few days. Even on these bitterly cold mornings, the crew is here before the sun comes up, moving ahead. You will notice that the waterproofing is being applied to the foundation as each section is done, and then the backfill is put in place.
The steel needed for construction is being fabricated now and will be on site in mid-February. Contracts are in place for most of the rest of the work to be done, with contractors ready to move into action as soon as possible. We are on schedule for a mid-fall 2013 completion date.
In addition to the steel fabrication, there is other work being done offsite in preparation for installation. Richard Fowkes & Company is crafting the pipes for the organ and the finishes for the organ cabinetry have been chosen. The organ is scheduled to be installed very late in the construction process so that it can be tuned and voiced without lots of dust, noise and distraction. The Verdin Company has worked the bell casting into their schedule so that it will be cast and arrive on site in time for installation in mid-July. If anyone is traveling to Cincinnati there is an opportunity to watch the casting. The Building Committee continues to review finishes and to make decisions about the details of audio visual equipment.
We are still waiting for the legal OK from the bank so we can dig across their driveway for the installation of needed electricity but this should happen within the next few days. The Avery Companies continues site work and installation of conduits and utilities that will be located below the foundation room floor.
During January, members of the Building Committee will be meeting with each committee and board of the church to share details about construction. The presentation at each meeting will be open to anyone from the church who would like to hear more, and there is an open presentation on January 15, following the Community Supper. Check the Sunday bulletin and January Highlights for the full list of meeting times.
Update December 18
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
One hundred thirty-three yards of concrete were poured into the forms for the foundation on Friday. And now the forms are being removed and you will be able to see what the foundation will look like – windows and all! While the concrete is curing there will be other things going on at the site. There will be forms and then concrete for the front steps and for the elevator tower. Eventually the steps and most of the foundation that is visible above the ground will be sheathed in granite block and will look very much like the steps and foundation of the former Meeting House.
Other work that will be done while the concrete cures will include additional site work by Avery Construction and the placing of conduit for utilities under the floor. We are waiting for the approval we need from the Bank of America to dig across their driveway for the installation of electric service. The next step after the foundation and current work will be steel. The structural steel “shop drawings” are being done in preparation for the arrival of the steel on the site in February. Bids have been received from contractors for the framing, drywall, sheathing and rough carpentry and for the electrical work. We also have requested bids for the HV/AC work.
The good news is that everything continues to be on schedule.
Dan Clayton, the acoustician for the project was with us for several hours today as the Building Committee went over in detail the proposal for sound enhancement and audio-visual components of the project. This new construction is allowing us to create a sanctuary with much better sound than would ever have been achievable in the old Meeting House. A combination of wireless and wired microphones will work to be sure the spoken word is clear throughout the sanctuary and will also bring us the best sound from the organ and other musicians as well. Because the system will be integrated into the construction there will be fewer opportunities for things to go wrong.
One of the great features to be included will be preset lighting and sound in the sanctuary. Once the building is completed we will determine the various kinds of services that will take place and the level of lighting and sound desired for each. There will be a panel in the sanctuary that will allow an usher or someone else, to turn the lights and the sound system to “ON” and then choose the type of service, “Sunday morning” for instance, and all the lights and sound will be set at the desired levels. Aside from convenience, the important thing here is that no one will have access to the controls of the systems, so there will be no chance that microphone levels will be changed.
We are also anticipating times when the church is full for various services and there may be a need for overflow seating. Sound and perhaps video will be available in the Foundation Room and Care Center with the additional possibility of making it possible for people in the kitchen, Pilgrim Hall and bride’s room to hear what is going on in the sanctuary. The system will also allow for recording of worship services for use on the internet or for direct streaming for homebound and other people who wish to see and hear the service when they are not able to attend.
Arrangements are being made for members of the Building Committee to present building plans to the Boards and Committee of the church during January. Any interested member of the church will also be invited to attend one of these informational meetings. Details, dates and times will be posted on the church web site and in the January 2013 edition of Highlights to invite everyone. There are many plans and much excitement to be shared!
Due to Christmas the Building Committee will not meet next week and there will not be a printed update. Merry Christmas!
Update – December 12, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
This is the week of the “big pour” with sixteen trucks scheduled to deliver the concrete to the site and into the foundation forms on Thursday, December 13. As part of the process, a pump will be placed near the northeast corner of the foundation; concrete will be delivered there and distributed all around. There will be a curing period of several weeks following the pour during which work will continue on the site. The work will include the location of conduit under the slab and preparation for the electrical installation. All of that will be followed by the beginning of steel work around the first of the year.
The Building Committee spent time this week working on three distinct areas. First they reviewed and accepted the recommendation of the “Finishes” Committee that included carpeting and other flooring, counters, cabinets and wall coverings. The Finishes Committee worked hard to choose materials and colors that are suitable for the new building and in keeping with the commitment to create a new sanctuary that has the same feel as the old one. The final choices about wall color – which will be white – will not be made until samples can be seen in the space with windows and other parts of the structure in place. The Building Committee reviewed all the suggestions with an eye toward aesthetics, but toward economy, making sure to choose items that are durable and of a high quality without overspending.
Attention was also given to the sound and audio visual systems for the new Meeting House and the committee was able to teleconference with acoustician Dan Clayton to clear up question we had and to be sure we understood what his proposal includes. Here, the committee is trying to provide for both current and future needs of the church in the most cost effective way possible. The techniques and materials being used in the new building, especially in the sanctuary, are designed to make listening to music and to the spoken word easy and enjoyable. Various systems for amplification will be integrated in a way that makes operation of the equipment straightforward.
A teleconference was also held with Bruce Fowkes, a partner in the firm that is building our organ. We reviewed options for finishes on the pipes and on the case that will hold them and the console that holds the keyboards. We also talked about the process of installing the new organ once the building is built. Timing of installation is critical because the organ will be a sensitive instrument. Various ways of securing the instrument were also discussed. In the near future we should be able to share pictures of the organ design.
One of the wonderful changes the new building is making possible is a more welcoming hallway from the lobby to the dining room on the first floor. From the offices, one will walk through a wide hallway that will have windows to the outside on the east side and through double doors into the dining room. The width of the hallway will make access easier, and the windows will add to the warmth of the welcome we extend to members and guests alike. There will be direct access from the hallway to the kitchen and easy access from the parking lot to the kitchen through the accessible stairway tower on the east side of the building. A similar hallway will be located on the second floor leading from the lobby into the sanctuary. Width and windows will produce an open and welcoming feeling. A meeting room and a parlor (Pilgrim Hall) will be located on the west side of the hallway.
We await the next communication from our Insurance Company in response to information given to them by our construction manager so that we can move ahead with the settlement.
The reports we have indicate construction is on schedule and we are moving forward at a steady pace.
Update – December 6
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The Building Committee spent most of this week’s meeting reviewing the audio visual suggestions from Dan Clayton, our acoustician. The extensive proposal includes all the microphones, speakers and assistive listening devices in the sanctuary, as well as a system for recording services and “piping” services in the sanctuary into other areas of the building. Other areas include the Care Center, so people working there and parents who feel it necessary to take a child from the sanctuary will still be able to at least hear and perhaps see, the worship service, and the dining room in case there is need for overflow seating. The proposal also addresses the need for a PA system in the dining room and the ability to show videos in that area. A great deal of work has gone into the proposal and the acoustician has worked closely with our own Tech Committee in order to be aware of and to meet our needs. No final decisions have been made and the discussion of the proposal will continue next week with Mr. Clayton available by conference call.
Several members of the Building Committee met on Wednesday afternoon to look at the needs we have and will have for securing our entire facility. Here too, there have been no final decisions, but consideration is being given to the need to control access to exterior doors and various parts of the entire facility and the need to prevent burglary and vandalism in and around the facility. There is a wide variety of options available along a spectrum of technical complication and cost. We are very aware of the need to keep expenses low while making sure the building is secure and we have adequate protection.
We have moved ahead with the Connecticut Department of Transportation. There are a couple of paperwork items that need to be completed and then the electric lines will be brought from the street to the Meeting House site. We have also learned from the DOT that we needed to remove signs from the front of the church property and have done so.
It was decided that John Jones will use some of the salvaged wood from the Meeting House to create a new cross for the front of the sanctuary. Details will be worked out as to size but it is exciting to know there will be a part of the former church permanently installed as part of the new.
There has been some discussion of the third floor that will be part of the new Meeting House. The fact is the balcony in the old church was a third floor, though we never referred to it that way. Because we are replacing the balcony and there is seating for congregants as well as the choir and the organ, there is a need to make it code compliant. The old balcony was dead ended on both sides and that will not be allowed in the new building. In order to keep the balcony and make it code compliant exits had to be added on the north end on both sides of the balcony. This meant there needed to be a way to exit the building, necessitating a connecting hallway and a code compliant stairway. Access requirements led to the need for an elevator reaching the third floor. We have learned during the design process that very often the requirements of various applicable codes and the design elements we want and need build upon each other. There are some things we have foregone because of escalating costs, but felt the overwhelming desire of the congregation was for the balcony to be as close as possible to what was in the former church.
This week there will be a couple of marathon days of cement pouring as the forms we have watched being built over the past few weeks will be filled with cement, creating the first floor walls of the new Meeting House.
If you have concerns, questions or comments, please talk with one of the members of the Building Committee, send a note to them at the church, or send an email to email@example.com. We are always happy to talk about the progress being made and the design of the new Meeting House.
Update – November 28, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The Building Committee spent a good deal of time this week looking over the construction schedule provided by Petra Construction. The projected completion date for the Meeting House is fall of 2013, and it is very difficult to be more specific than that this early in the project. So far we have only contracted for the site and concrete work. As other parts of the project go out to bid and contracts are signed we will be able to have a better idea of when to plan for the celebratory dedication services.
On the schedule to go out to bid is the steel work, which should be out this week, followed closely by the framing and sheathing work, which includes the roof and all the decking, and then the electrical, plumbing and HVAC portions of the project will go out. All of the bidding is done through Petra Construction with a recommendation made to the Building Committee about individual contacts.
We have continued to discuss what, if any, use can be made of the beams that were salvaged from the Meeting House after the fire. There are several in our possession. It has been impossible so far to get anyone to cut into them so we can determine how good they are and how they might be used, because there are lots of nails and other bits of metal in them. No mill wants to risk damaging saws and other cutting tools. We hope to find a way to remove nails from some sections of the beams so that they can be used in the new building. Thoughts for use have included the cross at the front of the sanctuary, the top of the communion table and various hand rails and door pulls that will be needed. The Building Committee is continuing to work closely with the Artifacts Committee and will seek that committee’s input prior to making final decisions. We have agreed that we want to recognize the history of the third Meeting House by using some wood in the fourth, without creating a constant reminder of the fire.
We are waiting for approval from the CT Department of Transportation for digging on the street necessary to connect to the power pole in front of the Bank of America. A trench will be dug from the pole across the driveway of the bank and onto church property to the location of the new transformer. This is pretty straightforward, but approvals need to be in place. Watch for that to happen very soon.
We are expecting a progress report on construction of the organ within the week. Work is underway on creating the pipes and we will be receiving drawings of the new pipes and the organ and choir loft which we will share with everyone.
Next week the Building Committee is scheduled to discuss electronics, audio visual and other technological concerns with our acoustician and our own Tech Committee, as well as looking at possible security systems. We have determined it will be crucial to secure the new building at a higher level than we had secured the old.
A subcommittee of the Building Committee is meeting this week with CHK’s interior design experts to narrow our choices of furniture and the Interiors Committee is also meeting with them to make some decisions about fabrics, paints and flooring.
Update - November 20, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
Things are moving ahead on several fronts this week. It is great to be able to report that at a meeting of the members of the church on Sunday, authorization was given to the Church Council to begin making arrangements for a Capital Fund Campaign to raise funds to underwrite the expense of building the new Meeting House. Although we have not yet come to a final settlement with the insurance company, it is clear that necessary code enhancements, twenty-first century technology and keeping the same overall feel of the Meeting House will cost more than the settlement will award us. Within the next few weeks as the settlement is reached and the final cost for building is identified a Capital Campaign Committee will be working to address the need. Everyone will be invited to take part in raising our new Meeting House which will quickly become a landmark and center of community life.
The Building Committee, construction team and architects have virtually completed our latest response to the insurance company as we move toward a settlement. A great deal of work has been done to document the building that existed on December 31, 2011 so that an appropriate replacement cost can be set. As that part of the process is completed our Insurance Committee continues to work with the insurance company to get payment for contents that are being replaced. Although most of their work is carried on behind the scenes, the Insurance Committee has worked tirelessly through the past eleven months to be sure that bills are paid and our needs are met. Reviewing inventories and requests for payment and presenting documentation to the insurance company for each expenditure is arduous and we are fortunate that the Insurance Committee has been able to keep an eagle eye on the entire process.
At 6:30 this morning I looked out my kitchen window and saw the car headlights of workers arriving at the Meeting House site to begin work. Some concrete has been poured; the rebar and forms have been set for more to come. Already we can see what will be the footprint of the new Meeting House. There is a curing time for the cement to insure it is adequate for the building about to rise upon it, but soon steel work and framing will begin, and by early 2013 we will be able to see the outline of the entire structure.
Over the past several months, through the design phase, the Building Committee and architects have worked with the organ builders and acoustician on details of the sanctuary design. The organ will be placed in the balcony, as it was in the former Meeting House. Special attention will be paid to the floor supporting the pipes. It was decided, in order to enhance the sound, the center aisle of the sanctuary would be carpeted, but there will be no carpet under or between the pews. The balcony will not be carpeted. As in the past, the lower level pews will have cushions, but not those in the balcony. A special technique will be used to install multiple layers of sheetrock on the walls so they will help create the fuller sound of the new organ. A flat, coffered sanctuary ceiling will also enhance the sound of the organ, voices when they are singing, and speaking voices too. Because of these acoustical improvements and the design that allows us to remove two of the pillars from beneath the balcony there will not be a “bad seat in the house,” as the saying goes.
Pictures of the building progress are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SomersCongUCC. If you have concerns, questions or comments, please talk with one of the members of the Building Committee, send a note to them at the church, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to talk about the progress being made and the design of the new Meeting House.
Update - November 13, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The Building Committee met for three hours this morning and had a chance to review all the plans for electrical systems, including outlets and light fixtures throughout the new Meeting House. This is one of those times when we are able to remember the inconveniences we lived with in the old Meeting House and make improvements. There will be several areas where lights will come on when someone walks in and then shut off when no one is there. This should help prevent lights being left on for days on end. There will also be adequate lighting in closets and storage areas and of course in the stairways. We also looked at where all the outlets will be and have tried to be sure we will have enough conveniently located so there will be no need for extension cords.
Today we also had a first look at many of the suggestions for furniture in the Meeting House. Although it is a pretty big building, there is really not that much furniture to be bought. In the sanctuary we will have chairs for the choir, the communion table, pulpit and baptismal fount, stands for flowers and a couple of chairs for the preacher and lay reader. We have chosen to have all furniture easily moveable so the space will be easily adjusted over time. We also are looking at chairs for the Foundation Room to go with tables that were replaced earlier in the year. One improvement we have planned is a chair and table storage closet on the south end of the Foundation Room where all the chairs and tables can be put away out of sight. On the second floor, between the sanctuary and the office wing in the area essentially equivalent to the former Pilgrim Hall, there will be two rooms. One will be set up with sofas and chairs similar to Pilgrim Hall and the other will be a meeting room suitable for up to about fifteen people with a round conference table. These two rooms will adequately replace Pilgrim Hall. In the Office and Bugbee wings, furniture that was destroyed has been replaced with the same type of pieces wherever possible.
Construction on the site continues. Forms and rebar have been set for the footings which should be poured by the end of the week. Once these are in place forms will be set for the foundation and that will be poured. Due to the nature of concrete it is necessary to allow a twenty-eight day “curing” period to make sure the concrete is strong enough to hold the large load that will be built on it. Then work will be completed on the utility conduits that will be placed in the floor and walls of the Foundation Room and kitchen.
Each week the Building Committee gets an update on progress being made, things completed and next steps to be taken. A detailed construction scheduled is prepared to help us see where we are. Each step of the construction process builds on the previous step and several different areas of construction come together for each step.
Work is continuing in the process of negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. We will be providing additional information they have requested this week and hope to hear a further response from them next week. While each week brings us closer to settlement, we are not sure yet when one will finally be agreed to.
Questions or comments? email@example.com Thanks!
Update - November 9, 2012
Anne Kirkpatrick, Moderator
The construction of our new Meeting House has begun. If you stop by, you will notice not only that the hole has been dug but poles have marked off corners and special areas such as the lower level where the new elevator will be installed.
The footing forms for the foundation were delivered on Monday. About one third of the footing forms have been put in. The west side is done and part of the south side is done and special “blankets” have been put on them to protect them from the cold weather. Next week the forms will be put in for the walls. Once these are all set up, the concrete will be poured and we will be able to see the footprint of the building. Additives will be put into the concrete to prevent it from freezing.
In the meantime, work progressed on the church office building. Barry, Liz and Carly are all “back home” in their offices, getting settled, unpacking and getting things back to “normal." The photos for the Photography Show are a welcoming sight on the first floor. Stop in and vote for your favorite photo if you have not done so yet.
On Tuesday, the heat was connected on the second floor of the church office building so it was warm enough for the new carpet to be installed on the entire second floor on Wednesday and Thursday. The bookcases were moved back in place in Room 206. Volunteers are needed to unpack the many boxes of books that were returned from storage. There are a few electrical fixtures yet to be installed as well as the sinks in the second floor bathrooms. The Restoration Committee will do a walk thru this week to review the punch list and make sure everything has been completed.
Update – October 31
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
We weathered to storm this week, though it did mean no work on Monday or Tuesday either in the office wing or on the Meeting House. Wednesday morning saw everything back in full swing. Site work and preparation for the concrete work to come continued on the Meeting House site and we are in the final stages of cleaning and last details in the office wing. It has been great to be back in the offices, but a little discombobulated with work still being done and boxes needing to be unpacked.
On Wednesday, the office trailer was taken away. The Petra Corp’s construction trailer will be relocated to the side of the parking lot where the office trailer has been, making more room for material and equipment storage. Entry to the Church Office is through the Main Door, as it was before the fire. Everyone is urged to use special caution in the parking lot and entering and leaving the building. Petra Corp has made the site as safe as possible, but we are aware of the fact that it is a working construction site.
The storm caused the cancellation of the weekly Tuesday meeting, but the Building Committee will meet on Thursday morning, November 1. The committee will continue to review the Meeting House plan and make decisions as needed. Our representatives from CHK Architects and Petra Construction are continuing to work with material received from the insurance company in the effort to reach a settlement.
The Church Council has moved ahead with plans to seek approval from the congregation for a Capital Campaign to raise needed funds for the Meeting House. An information sheet is being prepared by the Council and will be available to members in plenty of time for the meeting on November 18.
Update – October 25, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
If you have been by the church this week you have probably noticed that there is a pretty deep hole being created. This is the “cellar hole” for the new Meeting house. It is deep enough for the footings that will hold the whole structure above it. Once the footings have been put in you will see forms in place for the concrete walls of the foundation. It is going to start looking like a building in the very near future.
This has also been moving week. Everything has been removed from the office trailer and put back into the office wing. The phones and internet will be up and operational by the end of the week. If you have called the office you should have been able to leave a message, but we have not been able to retrieve them for a couple of days. This should have been remedied by the end of the day on the 25th. There are a few things that still need to be finished on the first floor, but on the whole things are ready to go.
Access to the offices is through the Main Door, and the construction fence is positioned so that you can walk between it and the building in order to get in.
Painting is being completed on the second floor of the office wing, and the carpet will be installed there early next week. The heat is on for the first floor and should be working on the second floor sometime next week. The elevator passed the state inspection this morning.
Plans for the new Meeting House should be ready to submit to the Building Inspector by the 26th. These plans will also be used by Petra Construction to determine the cost of the new building so they can give us a “Guaranteed Maximum Cost.” Once we have this and the figure for the settlement from the insurance company, we will know exactly where we stand and what funds will need to be raised to complete construction. As we have stated previously, the Church Council is preparing information for the membership to help determine the best way to proceed in raising the necessary funds.
Remember that any questions you have about the building project can be directed to the Building Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to any member of the Building Committee. Detailed information about costs and necessary fund raising will be shared as soon as it becomes available.
Update – October 17
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
Things are getting completed this week, and next week we will be moving in to the Office Wing. One of the final tasks to be completed is the sealing of the tile in the downstairs hallway, which was begun on Wednesday, October 17. Once the sealant is on it is vitally important that no one walk on it for at least 3 days. That means the Office Wing is OFF LIMITS to everyone from today through Sunday. Painting and carpentry work continues on the second floor. The elevator should be operational by the end of next week or the week after.
October 24 marks an important deadline for the project, when the plans are due to be submitted to the Building Inspector. The Building Committee, architect and construction manager have all been busy getting things in order, making some final decisions about floor plans and so on in order to be ready. Decisions about colors and other finishes will be finalized in the near future; they do not need to be made before this submission.
While we are waiting for approvals things will look a little slow around the site, but lots has already been done. Necessary changes to the water main and drainage system have been made. This will allow us to connect the eaves spouts and other drainage systems to the underground pipes so they can be taken away from the building and discharged safely. The exact property line will be established between the church and the bank which will then allow us to begin work preparing for the installation of the electrical transformer in the southwest corner of the property. Power will be brought underground to the transformer from an existing pole in front of the bank. This will require digging from the pole to the transformer which will take about a day and require the presence of a police officer to insure safety on Main Street.
Our representatives continue to work with the insurance company representatives to reach a settlement of our claim. This process involves getting everyone clear about what we had, what it would cost to replace what we had and what code enhancements are needed in our new building. Progress is being made, but as everyone can imagine, there are a lot of details involved. Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief when the settlement is agreed upon.
Next week we will be moving from the office trailer back into the office wing. This may mean there will be some interruption of the phone and internet service and it may be hard to get a hold of us at certain points, but we will do our best to keep these to a minimum. Replacement office furniture is due to arrive early in the week, phone and internet service is scheduled to be switched over and many of the lots of boxes that have stored our supplies and belongings will be unpacked for a final time.
The Building Committee continues to monitor email@example.com, so if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to send them along. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
Update – October 9, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
Work progresses! The telephone equipment has been moved into the control room, the temporary furnace is in and we should have heat in the office wing tomorrow. Painting is done on the first floor and well underway on the second. Flooring will get underway at the beginning of next week. The tiling is complete in the rest of the rooms. Desks have been ordered and will be delivered in time for the move. We look to still be on schedule to get back into the office wing by the end of October so arrangements have been made to have the office trailer removed from the lot at the beginning of November.
A couple of weeks ago all of our belongings that had been in storage since the fire were returned to us. There have been people going through the boxes sorting out what is there and determining if everything that was saved is really usable. There are lots of books that were in room 206, the offices and Pilgrim Hall. Many suffered water and fire damage – some came back “singed”. We are saving what can be saved, and have to make a list of those that are not worth keeping so they can be added to the insurance claim. There was a lot of stuff from the Bugbee Kitchen that had been removed and stored and most of it has been returned. I am happy to be able to report that one of the things saved was the clock from Pilgrim Hall, donated by the Hornyaks, and refurbished by Mike Mangini after the fire. It is sitting in my office in the trailer now, chiming the hour and the half hour regularly.
Work on the new Meeting House is also moving along. A new water main has been put in, along with a drainage pipe. The concrete contract will be awarded by the end of the week and work will begin very soon on the footings and other foundation work. A site has been selected for the new transformer (the southwest corner of the lot) and work can begin running the power cable from the source pole to the transformer. Once construction is underway power will be run from the transformer to the mechanical room in the Meeting House. This location of the transformer means that there will be no digging necessary in the Memorial Garden.
The Building Committee continues to review plans and make decisions. After much discussion with input from the architect, acoustician and construction manager, the design of the sanctuary ceiling was determined. The design chosen will give us enhanced sound from the organ, from singing, and from people speaking. The committee is looking at various pew builders to find a pew similar to the ones in the previous Meeting House. They are also looking at folding chairs for the Foundation Room, furniture for Pilgrim Hall and the meeting room and various light fixtures needed. The group is even reviewing placement of electrical outlets to help make the Meeting House as “user friendly” as possible.
The Design Committee will meet this week and is getting close to making recommendations about flooring and fabrics to be used in the sanctuary. They are being very conscious of appearance, but are also concerned with acoustics and expense. They will make their recommendations to the Building Committee who will make final decisions about décor.
The Building Committee continues to monitor the firstname.lastname@example.org e-mails, so if you have a question or a comment, that is a good place to take it. You can of course also speak with any member of the Building Committee.
Update – October 4, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
There has been a lot of action at 599 Main Street in the past week. Avery Construction has removed the slab and remaining foundation of the old Meeting House, cut down dead trees on the site and prepared the area for what will come next. Petra Construction is in the process of getting their construction trailer connected to the power lines, and the fence has been extended to keep things safe.
We are hoping to have named a concrete contractor by the end of the week and work should begin as early as next week on footings and so on for the new foundation. We have also met with a representative of CL&P about placement of the transformer needed for the entire facility. Our goals are to place it as unobtrusively as possible and avoid any digging in the Memorial Garden. It looks like we may be able to accomplish both of these, placing the transformer at the southwest corner of the lot. Both CL&P and the state Department of Transportation are reviewing this plan and an alternative should one be needed.
Restoration is on schedule to have us back in the office wing by the end of October, with a move-in date set for October 25. Painting is nearly completed. The final test of the fire alarm system was today. The boiler is being connected, the elevator work is being done and the tile work in the rest rooms should also be done this week. Other tile and carpeting work will begin next week and be done in plenty of time to get us back into the space as scheduled. Replacement desks and other furniture have been ordered so that it should arrive in time for the move. Of course, it must be said, we have learned that there can always be delays and setbacks, but we are confident this schedule will hold.
Our insurance company has responded to the work done by our construction manager and architect concerning the estimate of replacement costs and they will be meeting in the very near future. It is still not clear when the final settlement agreement will be reached. In the meantime, our Finance Board has secured insurance to protect our buildings. Our former insurance carrier chose not to renew our policy given the sizeable loss we suffered. We are fully insured by another carrier.
Worship continues to be held each Sunday at 8:15 and 10 A.M. in the Community Education Building at Johnson Memorial Hospital. Ushers, Deacons, choir and Sunday school teachers are all putting in the extra effort it takes to make sure we are ready each week and to maintain as normal a schedule as possible. We have been using a photo of the chancel of the old Meeting House in the front of the auditorium each week, but now that the ground breaking is past and we are moving forward, we will be using the architects drawing of the new chancel as a focal point. This will help us all as we make the transition from the old to the new.
The schedule for obtaining the necessary permits from the town means that the new Meeting House design will be completed and ready to be submitted on October 24. The Building Committee has been looking at furniture and fixtures in order to have decisions made in a timely fashion. These details can change after the final plan is approved, but we want to have the complete plan to work with as soon as possible.
Update – September 26, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
What a glorious day we had for the Ground Breaking Celebration on Sunday! Upwards of 300 people gathered, the choir sounded great, the refreshments were spot on, and the Somers Congregational United Church of Christ opened a new chapter in its life. We have begun building the church’s fourth Meeting House. There are pictures on our web site and our Facebook page and there will be more added. We are thankful for the news coverage we received and for the support of the many people who joined in the celebration.
In any big project there are always people who are very busy behind the scenes, doing things that need to be done without fanfare or recognition. Since shortly after the fire we have been lucky to have Lois Lindell, our Assistant Collector, receiving and recording all the contributions that have been made to the rebuilding fund. Lois has kept an accurate list of contributors and set the names and addresses along to the appropriate people so that acknowledgements and thank you notes could be sent.
This morning when I arrived at the church there were people from Avery Construction and Petra Construction consulting about the site work that is about to begin. In order to prepare the site for the Meeting House, the remaining foundation and slab will need to be replaced, a trench for utility conduits dug and the level of the foundation floor lowered. Watch for lots of activity in the next few days.
Work in the office wing is proceeding. The painting is nearly done on the first floor and is well underway on the second. Most of the work to install the temporary boiler has been done and the rest should be finished this week. Final installation of the fire alarm system will be completed and the data and voice systems will be completed soon. Flooring can be installed on the first floor next week and then on the second in a couple of weeks. Plumbers will be working this week to get the rest rooms in working order. At this point we are on schedule to move back into the offices at the end of October. With the move we will be able to remove the office trailer from the parking lot.
When construction gets underway there will be an office trailer belonging to Petra Construction in the parking lot. There will also be fences with locked gates to secure the construction area and keep the whole church property safe. The people from Petra have done a lot of planning to be sure our site will be neat and safe. We are, of course, counting on church people to pay attention to the signs posted and to use extra caution when they are in the parking lot.
We want to again thank all those who had a hand in making the Ground Breaking Celebration a joy-filled afternoon! Church members and the community have been a blessing throughout this challenging year.
Update September 20 - Frequently Asked Questions
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The Ground Breaking will be held on this Sunday, September 23, at 4 P.M. making this a good time to answer some frequently asked questions.
Will the new Meeting House look like the old Meeting House?
The design for the new Meeting House replicates the old one as closely as possible on the exterior. There will be the same number of windows and the steeple will look the same. The only changes made will be to meet building codes; there will be granite steps in the front, but the rise will be shorter and they will now have consistent rise and tread dimensions.
The Interior design reflects the need to meet current building codes and add safety and accessibility. The Foundation Room will now include a “Bride’s Room” and closets for storage. A fire rated stairway will be located in the southwest corner of the new building. The kitchen will be updated and include plenty of storage. Pilgrim Hall will be replaced with a new room very much the same in design and purpose and a meeting room. The sanctuary will feature a wrap-around balcony with the organ at the rear of the room. The chancel, which will be smaller than before will no longer have “choir pews” but will have an arch and will be accessible to all. Storage will be included for the Ushers and Deacons near the chancel. The sanctuary windows will have the same stained glass as the former sanctuary.
When will construction of the new Meeting House begin?
Construction officially begins with the Ground Breaking on September 23 and workers and equipment will be on site within a week beginning site preparation and work on the foundation. Progress will be visible to all driving by on Main Street.
When will the new Meeting House construction be completed?
We expect construction to take 11 to 12 months, so we are looking forward to a Dedication Service for the new Meeting House in September 2013.
Who is building the new Meeting House?
The architectural firm of Clohessy, Harris & Kaiser, LLC, of Simsbury is designing the new Meeting House.
Petra Construction Corp. of North Haven has been hired as Construction Manager. There will be many subcontractors working on the Meeting House over the course of the year.
Will insurance cover all the costs of the new Meeting House?
We are still in the process of negotiating a final settlement with our insurance company and a final cost of construction has not been determined. There may well be expenses beyond the final settlement, in which case the church will have a Capital Campaign to raise funds from members and friends of the church.
Is the rest of the facility in use now?
Yes. The Bugbee wing opened in mid-August and the Cooperative Preschool returned at the beginning of September. Within a month restoration work will be completed in the Office wing and Carly, Liz and Barry will be back in their offices.
Are church activities and events being held?
Yes. Worship and Sunday school are held each week at the Community Education Center on the campus of Johnson Memorial Health Center on Chestnut Hill (Rte. 190). We will continue to worship there until the new Meeting house is open.
Champ’s Place is open in the Bugbee Center every Monday from 10 A.M. to noon.
Monthly Community Suppers are held in the Bugbee Center on the 15th of each month.
There will be a Pound Auction to support the Network Against Domestic Abuse on September 29 and the annual Reason for the Season Christmas Bazaar will be held on December 1. Our Nativity Display will be set up and open from December 9 through January 6. The only major event we have had to cancel, to date, is the Turkey Supper.
Regular monthly meetings of boards and committees are being held in the Bugbee Center, as is the Confirmation Class.
Are non-Church groups using the facility?
We are not able, at this time, to accommodate non-Church groups, but are looking forward to welcoming back many of those who have used our facilities in the past in 2013.
What Can I do to help?
Pray for us. Keep up to date on our progress by checking our weekly updates at the church web site www.somerscongregational.org Watch for an opportunity to participate in a fund raising event or to contribute to a Capital Campaign.
If I have further questions, whom can I ask?
Please feel free to talk with any member of the Building Committee, call the Church Office (860-763-4021) or send an email to Build@somerscongregational.org.
April 19, 2012
On Tuesday, April 17, the Building Committee approved the floor plan that was presented by the architects. This is the same plan that was shared with the Church Council on April 10 and the congregation on April 15. This approval moves us ahead significantly. Work will now begin on designing how the various rooms will be equipped and how they will look when the building is complete. Over the next few weeks the Building Committee will be reaching out to many different people in the congregation for input about the sanctuary, narthex and chancel, the kitchen and dining room, the room that will replace Pilgrim Hall and the meeting room.
CHK Architects will be working with the people from the church and with specialists in various areas including kitchen, church furniture, audio visual, sound and acoustics, alarm and data and several other areas. The input from church members will be considered along with code updates, building practices and up-to-date technology. This all combines to create a design and plan that meets our needs and reflects the sensibilities of the congregation. Finding a balance between what was, what needs to be and what can be will be central in all of the design work.
The Building Committee continues to welcome comments, suggestions and questions from any member of the congregation. All the suggestions and comments received to date have been part of the ongoing discussion about the design of the new Meeting House. The notebook with the compiled comments and suggestions is referred to often by Building Committee members. Your comments, specific or general are important.
On Monday, April 16, the Town of Somers issued an official Certificate of Occupancy for the Bugbee Center portion of our facility. All necessary work was completed although there are still some cosmetic and finishing touches to be done. Champ’s Place was able to move out of the Town Hall and back into room 114. There is new carpeting, fresh paint, and new shelving installed there. Today the necessary replacement refrigerators and freezers were delivered, making them 100% back in business.
Attention has now turned to the office area of the building. Electricity is being restored there and early next week, arrangements should be made for the elevator to be tested. Necessary wiring will soon be done for alarm systems, data and phone service. Work will also begin soon on the heating system for the office area. Engineers are completing the design for the system which will be coordinated with the needs we will have when the new Meeting House is finished. Sheet rocking, painting, installation of flooring and replacement of the rest rooms will also be done in the near future. Although there are many variables, we hope to be able to be back in the offices in the early fall.
Please remember that even though the Bugbee Center is usable, no nonchurch groups will be permitted to use any of the space until after September 1. Also, the 2 floors of the office are off limits to everyone. There are “No Trespassing” signs in place, and their message is real. The area remains unsafe.
We are waiting anxiously to receive the report of the Organ Committee on May 1, letting us know who has been selected to build our new organ, and the time frame for its installation. There is a possibility we will be worshiping in the new meeting house for some period of time before the organ installation is complete.
Weekly worship continues with services at 8:15 and 10:00 AM every Sunday in the Community Education Building on the Johnson Memorial Medical Center campus on Chestnut Hill Road (Route 190) in Stafford. Most Board and Committee meetings are now schedule to be held in the Bugbee Center. We are maintaining regular office hours in the trailer in the parking lot. Phone numbers and internet addresses are the same as pre-fire.
Update – September 13, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass, Pastor
The Ground Breaking Celebration will be held on Sunday, September 23 at 4 P.M. Plans are well underway for refreshments, guests, ceremonial ground breakers, balloons and a hearty welcome to one and all. The celebration will be held under a tent on the slab; there will be chairs set up, we will make use of a sound system and we have done our best to think of ways to make this a great and enjoyable celebration for all. The parking lot will probably be full, so if you are able to walk a few extra steps you might consider parking across the street to leave plenty of room for those with mobility issues close to the building. After these past 9 months this Celebration will be awesome!
Speaking of the parking lot, we have added speed bumps to help control traffic. Four times a day the lot is pretty full as Pre-School parents drop-off and pick-up their children. On Mondays we have the added traffic of Champ’s Place throughout the morning, and twice a month there are cars in conjunction with the Food Share truck. In addition to these, there are many vehicles related to the subcontractors who are working to get our building in shape, and soon there will be construction equipment and workers as the new meeting House is raised. We urge everyone to use a great deal of caution in entering and leaving the parking lot and when walking around it while you are here so that things will continue to go smoothly and safely.
Lots of work has been done and more is being done in the office wing. The elevator is nearly operational, requiring a couple of parts that should be installed next week. Sheet rocking is finished and the painting has begun. Painting will include a primer coat and two finish coats on everything, so this will take some time, but it is underway. The grids are being set for the ceiling tiles on the first floor. Floor tiles are being grouted where they have been replaced and work is proceeding on installation of the temporary boiler. Flooring installation will begin when the painting is completed. On the whole we are making good progress and should be able to move back into the offices by mid-October, at which time we will be done with the office trailer and it will be moved off site.
Work has been begun in the Memorial Garden. In order to supply electricity to our facility, a new transformer will be installed on a cement pad just outside the northwest corner Memorial Garden. Conduit will be laid underground to carry power from the street to the transformer and from the transformer to the building. This will mean that a section of the Memorial Garden wall will be removed in the northwest corner so the trench can be dug for the conduit. The conduit will enter the building at the northeast corner of the garden, the point where the office wing connects with the Bugbee Center. Though a trench will be dug for the conduit across the north side of the garden, and there may be some disturbance to the walkway and a few memorial stones, there will be no disturbance of any burial sites that have been used. No urns or ashes will be disturbed in the process. The location of the trench was, in fact, changed in order to avoid disturbing any used burial sites. Once the conduit has been installed the trench will be filled in and the wall of the garden restored.
It has also been necessary to remove the wall on the south side (Main St. side) of the Memorial Garden because the Meeting House will extend to meet the edge of the Garden. Ground where the wall was removed has been sloped to prevent erosion. When construction is complete the wall and stairway will be put back, with the stairway centered on the south side of the garden. Again, no burial sites will be disturbed by this work.
Once construction begins on the Meeting House it is expected to take 11 to 12 months to complete, meaning we hope to be in the new facility for Homecoming Sunday 2013. What a celebration that will be!
Update – September 5
The Artifacts Committee has been working on various projects related to items recovered from the demolition of our old church. Since the day of the fire, David Morton took on the project of the church bell. He researched several bell experts who examined the bell post fire and advised our committee in a variety of ways.
Here’s a short history of the bell: It was made in 1850 by Meneely in West Troy, NY. It is a 36” diameter bronze bell that weighed 990 lbs. It had a raised “Arm and Hammer” design that made the bell special from other bells of its era. The design is surrounded by the Latin motto “Percute Dolce Cano” meaning “Strike me and I will sing sweetly”.
In regards to the Artifacts Committee's decision regarding the bell, we had several avenues to research and many considerations along the way:
Insurance Company – One interesting dynamic in our committee’s decision making is the fact that the bell is technically the property of our insurance company. If our committee decides to use it for any purpose, our church will need to “buy back” the bell from the insurance company at a cost of several thousand dollars. The bell was covered by insurance at replacement value to purchase a new bell. With the reimbursement though, the old bell becomes the property of the insurance company.
Displaying the old bell - Unfortunately, the old bell was extensively damaged by the fire and it was warped, charred, cracked in several places and has a large hole on the top. Pastor Barry Cass also felt it would be a constant sad reminder of the fire. He really would like for the new church to be uplifting for our congregation and community. After conferring with the Building Committee and Pastor Barry, the Artifacts Committee determined that the bell was not in good enough condition to be displayed in or outside the new church. Our committee also took into consideration the costs of “buying back” the bell from the insurance company and the costs of several thousand dollars to create a display to house a 990 lb. bell. Based on the condition of the bell, we determined that it did not make economic or practical sense to choose this option.
Melting down the bell to create a replica - We spoke with bell foundries who advised us that due to the age of the bronze and the damage from the fire, it would take a lot of refining to remove the impurities from the bronze of the old bell. The estimate given to our committee was that it “might have been possible” to have used 30% of the bronze from the old bell to create a replica bell. If we chose to go this route, there would be additional costs associated with refining the impurities from the old bell. It was estimated to cost our church $1,000 to ship the old bell to the foundry to have it melted down. These additional costs would not be covered by our insurance company. Also, those additional costs do not include “buying back” the bell from the insurance company. That would make this option cost several thousand dollars for the “possibility” of 30% of the old bell to be included in the making of a new bell. The Artifacts Committee decided not to choose this option for economic and practicality reasons.
Arm & Hammer Design – Two bell foundries, Verdin and Church Specialties made presentations for the Building Committee and the Artifacts Committee regarding the making of replica bells. These bell experts advised our committee that it was unusual for a bell of that era to have a raised design. The “Arm and Hammer” design is surrounded by the Latin motto “Percute Dolce Cano” meaning “Strike me and I will sing sweetly”.
After conferring with the Building Committee, Pastor Barry Cass and Anne Kirkpatrick (church moderator), the Artifacts Committee decided that we wanted to remove the “Arm & Hammer” design from the bell. That way, the part of the bell that was special could be saved and displayed in the new church.
We asked Rick Skodinski, chair of the Insurance Committee, to ask our insurance company for permission to remove the piece from the bell. The insurance company gave the permission and the piece was removed from the bell at the end of August. The Artifacts Committee would like to thank Scott Daigle and Tony Cardarella from Daigle’s Diversified Welding Services, LLC of Somers for donating their services.
Plaque for the new church – The piece with the “Arm and Hammer” design that was removed from the bell will be made into a plaque for the new church. The piece of the bell will be displayed in the new church in a location to be determined. This will allow generations to see the special part of the old bell. After careful consideration of other options already mentioned above, the Artifacts Committee decided this was the best option for our church.
Janice Morton, Chair Paul McKiernan
Liesbeth Burns David Morton
Ailene Henry, Church Historian Sharon Renzoni
Laura McKiernan Deborah Zuzba
Update – August 29, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The big news is that the official contracts have been signed and we are moving ahead with Petra Construction as our Construction Manager. Although we have been working with them for several months, the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed. This puts into motion the bidding process for the subcontractors who will be working on the new meeting house. Also this week the first group of plans from CHK have been delivered to the town building inspector for his review and approval, which means requests for bids for the site preparation and concrete work can be sent out. These actions keep us on schedule for the beginning of work following the Ground Braking on September 23.
Work in the Office wing has continued at a good pace this week. The insulation is completely done. The sheetrock is completed and taping and finishing has begun and should be completed in just a few days. Tile in the lobby that needed to be removed for the construction of the replacement fire wall has been replaced. The fire alarm system is installed and the Bugbee wing “zone” will be tested and set to go before the Preschool opens in a couple of weeks. Work to install the fire alarm system in the office wing will continue once the walls are completed. The data wiring is done and that system will be completed once the walls are done in the office wing. A contract has been signed with the company that will be supplying and installing the new phone system in the entire facility. All of this is moving us ahead toward a mid-October reopening of the office wing.
The Building Committee has begun the important task of reviewing all the plans prepared by CHK. Doors, hardware, electrical fixtures, and so on will all be reviewed and be given approval by the Building Committee. This is done to be sure we are getting what we want.
The Finishes Committee will be making final decisions about floor coverings, paint colors and fabrics throughout the new Meeting house in the next few weeks. They have received some input from individuals and Boards, and are considering it all and will make their recommendations to the Building Committee. They have been working with the professionals from CHK to choose appropriate finishes for the feel of the Meeting House as well as making sure selected finishes are durable.
Remember – Ground Breaking will be held on September 23 at 4 P.M. Everyone is invited and urged to attend.
Update - August 23, 2012
The Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
There has been a lot of activity around the church this week. The Green Construction crew is finishing the firewall on the southern side of the remaining structure. The work included putting in new footings, building the wall, extending and re-shingling the roof and replacing siding that had been damaged and removed. While that work was being done work began on insulating the walls of the Office wing. Both the firewall and the insulation are scheduled to be completed this week. The installation of a temporary heating system for the Office wing also began this week. The temporary system is being installed in the Office lobby and will be in use until the new system is up and running in the new Meeting House.
With those two major pieces of the work done and inspected, work will begin on sheet rocking ceilings and walls in the Office wing. Because all the walls were stripped of sheet rock to a height of about four feet and all of ceilings were stripped, this will be pretty involved and time consuming work. An experienced crew will be making sure all the joints are taped and the plaster properly installed. The suspended ceiling on the first floor will be replaced, which means a new grid must be installed before the tiles can be placed. This work should get underway next week.
Once the new sheet rock is completely installed, taped and finished, work will begin on painting. The tile that is being installed in each of the four lavatories in the Office wing will also be done. Doors will be hung, necessary window glass replaced, counters and cabinets installed and carpet will be laid. As with any construction project, each step along the way can only begin when the previous step is completed. Work is currently moving along and each day brings changes that hold out the promise of being able to re-occupy the Office wing by mid-October.
The Insurance and Building Committees are continuing to work together with the staffs of both CHK and Petra to prepare for upcoming meetings and negotiations with the insurance company. Inventory lists have been completed and reviewed so that we have an accurate tally of what contents were lost in the fire and how much it will cost to replace them. We have carefully compiled an overview of the building destroyed in the fire to be sure our settlement will be as fair as possible. It is not yet clear how much the final settlement will be or when it will be reached, but we are steadily moving in that direction.
The Church Council receives reports from the Insurance, Building, Restoration and Artifacts Committees each month so they are kept abreast with progress and issues in our fire recovery activities. This week, at the August Council meeting, there was discussion about the need for a Capital Campaign to secure funds for the completion of the rebuild. Although the discussion was very preliminary, there is a growing understanding that some additional funds will be necessary. The Council was clear that members of the church will be fully informed of any need that arises and of plans made to address the need.
Plans are progressing for the Ground Breaking on September 23 at 4 P.M. We will be sending invitations to several dignitaries and notices to all the donors, and we want to be sure everyone knows that EVERYONE is invited to be there to share in this celebration. As we have always tried to be a vital part of the Somers community, and we have been the recipients of much support in the past eight months, we hope to show appreciation by having a great crowd at the Ground Breaking. Members of the church will be asked to be part of the Ground Breaking in a variety of ways during preparation and during the Celebration.
Update - August 17, 2012
Anne Kirkpatrick, Moderator
On Tuesday we received the signed organ contract from Richards, Fowkes & Company for our new pipe organ that is being built in Tennessee. So, the building of our new custom organ has begun!
Work continued this week on the wall of the church office building. Framing was put up on the first floor and then the second floor wall was carefully removed and new framing was installed on that wall. Tyvek paper was put up on both floors on the exterior. Next Monday the final area of the attic will be removed and replaced with the new framing. The blue tarp on the roof and the damaged shingles will be removed and replaced with new shingles on a large portion of the roof.
The ducts from the previous heating system were removed from the office area, but the insulation of the walls in the building will not be started until the south wall has been completed.
We had hoped that the fire alarm system would be completed by August 15 but additional parts had to be ordered so several work days were lost. The scheduled inspection by the fire marshal could not be done this week.
On Thursday, the preschool parents transferred the furniture and equipment from the Baptist Church back to the Bugbee Center. They are now preparing for the required inspections by the health department and someone from the state before they get their official certificate to re-open in September.
The temporary propane heating system work will begin this week. We hope insulation of all of the walls on both floors can also be done. Once that is completed, we should be able to get a better idea of when the building will be ready for occupancy again.
We had another successful community supper this week (thank you Urbons and Kellys). Starting in September the community suppers will continue, but suppers will be across the hall in the Bugbee Center in Room 116.
As mentioned previously, if you have suggestions, thoughts, concerns or questions, you can still send an e-mail to the Building Committee at email@example.com.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Ground Breaking Ceremony on Sunday, September 23 at 4:00 P.M.
Barry will return on Monday from his vacation. We look forward to having him back.
Update – August 9, 2012
Anne Kirkpatrick, Moderator
On many days it’s takes a lot longer to go to Geissler’s to “grab something quick for dinner.” It’s not unusual to be stopped in an aisle and be asked the same question that many of you have been asked, “When is the building going to start?”
The good news is that work began on Monday to remove the plywood and the wall on the first floor of the church office building. The trench was dug and cement was poured for the footing (2’6” deep) for the new wall for the church office building. Framing will be put up for the first floor and next week the wall on the second floor will be removed and a new one will be built. Each floor will have a double-width center door instead of the previous single width door. The third step will be to remove the damaged part of the roof and put on new shingles. Then plywood will be re-installed on the entire new wall. The plywood won’t be removed until the new church wall is built, but it will enable us to get a certificate of occupancy to move back into the church office building.
Once the demolition is completed, the installation of insulation in the other parts of the church office building can begin. Hopefully, the new church office wall will be ready for insulation by the time the other rooms have been done. We are trying to coordinate timing of each phase to get the building re-opened soon.
The exterior siding that was damaged on the side of the church office entrance is being removed and replaced. The fire alarm panels were installed in the church office entrance this week. Hardware for the system is being mounted in each room in the Bugbee Center and office portion and will be completed by Monday. The fire marshal will then do the final inspection.
So, if you get a question from someone while “grabbing something quick for dinner," the building of the new church will begin the week of September 24th. The Ground Breaking Celebration will be on Sunday, September 23 at 4:00 P.M.
Our best wishes go to Barry this week while he is on vacation and hopefully having some time away to relax and spend time with his family, especially his new grandson.
Update – August 1, 2012
Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The restoration of the Office wing of the church is at a point something akin to the diving we have been watching on the Olympics. We stand at the ready at the edge of the board high above the pool waiting only for Green Construction to bring in their people and start work on the wall on the south side of the Office wing. This is the wall that will be between the Offices and the new Meeting House. Green Construction has been told to go ahead, so as soon as they mobilize, the existing wall will be removed, new footings will be put in place and a new wall will be built. The wall will include openings for doors that will eventually connect the offices to the Meeting House. They will be boarded up until the Meeting House is ready.
Once the wall gets built, a temporary boiler will be installed in the lobby for heating the office wing to meet code, and work will move ahead on the duct work, sheet rocking, painting, flooring and the necessary alarm systems will be completed. All of this will take several weeks to complete, but when it is done we should be able to receive our Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from the town. With CO in hand, we will be able to move back into the office wing and resume even more normal functions.
As announced last week, the Ground Breaking Celebration is scheduled for 4 P.M. on Sunday, September 23. The celebration will include scripture, greetings from some dignitaries and music. There will be refreshments too. Within a few days of the ground breaking, work will begin in earnest on the construction of the new Meeting House. The process will begin with work to prepare the site and remove the remaining slab and foundation. With those gone it will be possible to put in the new foundation, and then to begin to build the new Meeting House on top of it.
The Building Committee is still hoping that the Meeting House will be weather tight by winter, giving the builders the opportunity to work through even the most winter-like weather. If this is possible, we are looking toward the completion of building and the dedication of the new Meeting House in September 2013. Of course, there are many variables and there will undoubtedly be unforeseen circumstances and situations to be addressed over the course of the building. Everyone is, however, committed to building in a timely fashion.
We have continued to work on completion of contracts with the Organ Builder and the Construction Manager. Our attorney has provided some important guidance, negotiations have gone well, and we hope to have both contracts set by the end of this week or the beginning of next week.
Thirty-one boxes were brought back from the warehouse this week and have been unpacked. Most of the contents were from the Bugbee kitchen. Dishes have been washed and put away in the cabinets. There were a few random items and several “save for the tag sale” items in the boxes as well. The Women’s Fellowship made quick work of sorting contents and putting things where they needed to go.
The group working on selection of flooring, paint and other finishes met at the end of last week with representatives from CHK and are moving ahead with the selection of all the decorating items. The board of Deacons will look over selections and offer comments at their August 8 meeting. Final decisions in these areas will be made in the next several weeks.
Update – July 26, 2012
By Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
The biggest news this week is that the date for the Groundbreaking has been set! Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 23 at 4 P.M. We will gather on the site of the Meeting House and celebrate the beginning of construction. The full details of the Celebration will be forthcoming, but the date and time are firm. Once the Groundbreaking has taken place work will begin on the site to get ready for the foundation and other concrete work as the beginning of the building process. It seems to have been a long time coming, but we have been working steadily to reach this moment.
Work has been done with the many items that have been in storage with ServPro since the fire. In the days immediately after the fire salvageable items were taken from the Office and Bugbee wings and stored in a warehouse. Some of the items have been brought back in the past few months and now we are getting the bulk of the remaining items back. There are more than thirty boxes to be sorted through. There are things from every room on the bottom floor of both the Bugbee and Office wings. Most of the stuff needs to be cleaned before it can be put away. Because the Office wing is not open yet storage will be at a premium.
There is still a storage trailer in the church parking lot. It contains items from the Office and Bugbee wings that have been deemed unsalvageable. The trailer is there because the insurance company may send someone to inspect the contents in order to determine the value to be covered. We hope to have this all sorted out with the insurance company in the near future.
This week we saw the beginning of work on the data and voice installation and the end of the work on the first phase of the fire alarm installation. The final installation of each of these will be done once the sheet rock has been done.
We are waiting for the OK from the insurance company to move ahead with the construction of the new firewall. Everything else to be done in the Office wing is waiting on that. There will be about two weeks of work to be done taking down the wall that is there and putting up a new wall. Once that is completed we can move ahead with sheet rocking, painting, flooring installation and final installation of the voice, data and alarm systems. The temporary boiler and its fuel supply will be installed once the wall is up too.
Tom Moriarty began dissembling the steps in the Memorial Garden and will soon be removing a portion of the wall and then reworking the bank that is left to prevent erosion during the building process. In the course of site work and building the present gas tank will be moved and a new in-ground oil tank will be installed.
The Building Committee is working hard to coordinate the work done by the estimator, the insurance company’s adjuster, and the construction manager so that we can reach an accurate settlement of our claim. This involves many hours of work by members of the committee and by representatives of both the architect and the construction manager.
Remember to mark your calendar for 4 P.M. September 23 for the Ground Breaking!
Update – July 18, 2012
By Rev. Dr. Barry Cass
We are now more than six months into the process of claiming the things that were lost in the fire, restoring the Office and Bugbee wings of our facility and making plans for rebuilding the Meeting House. The Insurance Committee continues to deal with coverage and payment issues on nearly a daily basis. The Artifacts Committee is continuing to review and monitor the items that were saved from the fire and to determine the best use to be made of them, if any, in the new building. The Gratitude Committee continues to send thank you notes to those who are contributing to the Rebuilding Fund. The Restoration Committee is overseeing the work being done in the Office wing and the work being finished in the Bugbee wing. The Building Committee meets every Tuesday morning about four hours and then carries out assignments daily through the rest of the week.
The Standing Boards and Committees of the church are also working with fire related issues and decisions. The Board of Deacons moves and sets up all the necessary items for worship each Sunday. The Board of House and Grounds deals with issues on the church property and safety concerns. The Memorial Garden Committee has been challenged in restoring the garden and dealing with ongoing concerns with the realignment of the wall and some utility installation that will be done through the garden. The Technology Committee has created the plan for installation of voice and data lines and has come up with a proposal for audio-visual needs throughout the facility. The Reception Committee has met the special needs related to continuing coffee hour in our temporary location and the Flower Committee has been keeping people informed about differences created by that location. The Ushers have adjusted their usual operations in order to keep things going as smoothly as possible.
There is no one connected to our church, no one connected to any of the Boards and Committees of the church that has not been effected by the fire and the aftermath. We are fortunate to have people who are willing to give the time and effort that has been necessary to keep things moving ahead and to make sure the right decisions are being made and actions being taken for the benefit of the church.
Several important things have been accomplished concerning the insurance settlement we are working towards. The limit of our Code Upgrade coverage has been determined which allows us to get a better picture how we will pay for fire and building code upgrades such as additional stairways exits as well as some handicap accessibility requirements. We have the go-ahead to install the temporary boiler to heat the office wing, enabling us to finish the work there and to re-occupy that section of the complex in the near future. We were able to reduce our current overall coverage of the facility, since there is no need to insure the part that already burned, thus reducing our expenses in 2012. With the rebuild the coverage, of course, will be increased again. We are in the process of re-evaluating the list of contents to provide the insurance company with a better statement of our loss. The list is available in the office trailer and we welcome any member to have a look at it and see if there are things that need to be added. This should be completed in the next week or so. Boards and Committees have also been asked to review the list and make necessary adjustments.
It has been determined that a new, higher capacity electrical panel will be needed and will be installed in the utility room in the office wing. The size of the panel will mean that voice and data units will be moved from the first floor utility closet to the second floor former A/V closet. Installation of the data and voice systems could begin as early as next week. The entire church facility will eventually have w-fi and some other state-of-the-art electronic equipment. Our Tech Committee has done a good job making plans and working with the Restoration Committee to get things underway.
Green Construction is ready to move ahead with building the firewall and should begin very soon. The work on the firewall will be the beginning of the completion of the office wing and once it is done all the other work should proceed fairly quickly. The restoration Committee has made necessary selections of cabinets, paint colors, tile and carpeting. Arrangements have been made to make a couple of improvements in the church office. There will be a window in the door between the office and the work room to allow for those working to have a better sense of what is going on in the area. An additional window has also been installed in the wall of the office which will allow natural light from the hall windows into the office. This is also a safety and security upgrade. Thought is being given to a better scheduling system, so we might eliminate the series of calendars on the walls.
We still do not have a firm date for groundbreaking, but we are working on it, and will be happy to announce it as soon as we can.
My editor has told me to be sure to sign these updates every week – thanks to him for that – I added my name at the top of the page.
July 11, 2012
Every week we think we will be able to provide a definitive date for the ground breaking, but so far the press of preliminary work, approvals and negotiations continue to make that an elusive date. We feel it is imperative to have the building “winter proof” so work can continue throughout the year, so we are anxious to get things underway. It is our sincere hope that all the members of the church and anyone in town interested in attending will make the ground breaking a great celebration of commitment, faith and hope. Watch this space for details.
As a less expensive alternative to creating a new tower bell research is being done on the possibility of procuring a bell that has been used in another church or facility. As churches close or move to new buildings sometimes the tower bell becomes available for sale. A bell company would be able to refurbish the bell, shine it up like new and place it in our tower. One of the advantages of this is that a use bell would cost less than a new one, but in addition, this seems like a wise use of resources and would allow us to give new life to bell that might otherwise be scrapped. This possibility will be carefully considered by the Artifacts Committee and the Building Committee before any final decision is made. In looks, sound and durability there would be no appreciable difference between a used and a new bell.
The Fire Alarms system is being installed in the Office and Bugbee wings this week. This installation is required by the Fire Code and the Fire Marshall has made it a requirement before the Preschool can occupy the rooms they use in the Bugbee wing. The system being installed now will cover Bugbee and the offices, and will be expandable to include the Meeting House when it is completed. Work will begin in the next week or two on installation of the Data and Voice systems in the offices and Bugbee wings. This will include Wi-Fi in meeting rooms, classrooms and common areas and the phone system in the offices. As with the fire alarm, data and voice systems will be installed for Bugbee and the offices and will be expandable to meet our needs in the Meeting house. Sheet rocking and painting will be scheduled to begin at the conclusion of installation alarm and data and voice systems.
We received a delivery from Battison’s cleaners of all the things they had in storage since the fire. There were table clothes, draperies, and even the clothing we had collected to share with Youth Challenge! We also received several boxes of things that have been stored by ServPro. Ladies of our Women’s fellowship were sorting and putting away items in storage from the Bugbee Kitchen. Over the next couple of weeks the rest of what is in storage is scheduled to be returned to the church so that we can get a final sense of what has been salvaged and what still needs to be replaced.
By far the biggest job being continued is that of coming up with an adequate and accurate estimate for replacing the Meeting House. Petra Construction continues to work with our architects and our Insurance Committee and the Insurance Company to be sure that the final settlement at which we arrive will make it possible for us to rebuild the Meeting House as it was with all the required code updates. It is good that we have the skilled expertise of Petra Construction working with us and protecting our interests.
July 5, 2012
Since last week the issue of heating the Church Office Building has been resolved in that the area will be heated temporarily by a propane boiler installed in the lobby of the building. This will mean that the three offices and workroom will be completed (painted and carpeted) before the building is re-opened. When the church is built, the propane boiler will be moved to the mechanical room on the opposite side of the building (behind the office of the CE Director). This decision was made partly due to the requirement that a new firewall will need to be built that is up to current code. This means the manifold for the radiant heating (a series of tubes on the exterior wall that circulate water under the tile floor) will need to be cut and the lobby will lose up to 6” of the current tile area. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reconnect the radiant heat to heat the first floor.
There is an order of steps that must be followed for the church office building to be restored. Although the decision of how to heat the building has been made, installation of the system cannot be done until the exterior wall is removed and a new interior wall is built by Green Construction. The exterior plywood will be re-installed and the new firewall on the exterior of the building will be built by Petra Construction when they start building the new church. So, although it looks like nothing has happened this past week, designs and cost estimates are being developed.
The vendor for the new fire alarm system has been selected. Materials are being ordered so hopefully that work can begin soon. The vendor for the “dataport wiring” has also been selected. Lighting fixtures for the bathrooms and wall sconces have been ordered. The sconces we had were no longer available, but the new ones will be very similar in the size and shape.
Another committee that was appointed for the new church was the Appreciation Committee, which is made up of Sue Jandreau and Dorian Jones. They have been sending thank you notes since January to individuals who have donated money to the building fund. I received an e-mail from a friend that said:
“Today in my mail box I received a hand written note from the Appreciation Committee of SCC. The fact that someone would take the time from their busy schedule to write such a sincere thank you for my modest gift leaves me speechless, and frankly speaks volumes on the quality of the people in your group. I am deeply touched.”
The contracts for the organ builder and Petra Construction are being reviewed and hopefully will be finalized soon. There is much work that is going on “behind the scenes” as we move slowly forward; not as quickly as we want, but moving forward in this huge project with the help and support of many people.
June 27, 2012
The refurbished Bugbee Center was in full use this week as the Vacation Bible School filled the entire wing with more than 100 kids, helpers and staff. Glad to report that everything seems to be in working order! A couple of minor issues came up, but we were able to get them attended to right away. It is probably a good thing we got to use it this way. Everyone will want to plan on being at the Community Supper on July 15 for another chance to see and use this space.
There has been a good amount of work being done in the office wing this week. The Technology Committee removed the central vacuum unit, leaving just the duct work to be taken down by Green Construction. Green also had a crew in removing what was left of charred beams, sheet rock and insulation. All of the walls and ceilings were spread with a sealant designed to get rid of the smoke smell. Although there is a chemical smell in the office wing now, that will soon dissipate. Once the new insulation, sheet rock and paint is up there should be no remaining smoke smell in the area.
Two issues being discussed by the Building Committee and the Restoration Committee will be resolved in the next couple of days. The first is determining how the Office wing will be heated in the time between its completion and the completion of the Meeting House. Several alternatives have been discussed and discarded for various reasons, but a decision will be made and heat installed in the next couple of weeks. The second issue is determining what is to be done with the fire wall that separated the Meeting House from the Office wing prior to the fire, and what will be in its place as the new Meeting house is built. Again, the Committees have been consulting the architects, engineers and other experts and working with the town building inspector. A new wall will eventually be built, but the timing of that is yet to be determined. This is a crucial decision to be made within the next few days.
Our goal continues to be to reopen the Office wing in early September and, barring that, as soon as possible in the fall.
Through the summer the committees brought together to choose colors, flooring and finishes are continuing to work with the designer. There was plenty of feedback offered at the June 3 meeting with the congregation and the designer which is being incorporated into the latest discussions. Those who have been helping with suggestions for the kitchen and dining room have also been working through the summer.
Discussions have begun between the church and the insurance company. This is a key time in beginning to work out the settlement. I am aware that there have been rumors about estimates and offers and would suggest that everyone ignore the rumors and try to be patient and wait for an official announcement from the Insurance Committee. That Committee continues to work hard and to have the best interest of the church in mind.
Watch this space for upcoming announcements about Groundbreaking!
June 20, 2012
Let me begin by thanking Anne Kirkpatrick for filling in with the updates for the past two weeks while I was away. This is another good example of how the members of the church have found ways to step up and fill-in in a lot of important ways since the fire in January. It is by pulling together and helping one another that we have been able to get so much done. I hear all the time that people are impressed by both the way we have pulled together and the amount and rate of progress we are making.
As reported previously, an array of people and companies is being assembled to help get the new Meeting house built:
CHK Architects of Simsbury is the architectural firm designing the new Meeting House
Petra Construction Company of North Haven is the construction management firm
Richards, Fowkes & Company of Ooltewah, Tennessee will build the organ
Clayton Acoustics Group of Carmel, New York is the Acoustical consultant
Verdin Bells & Clock Company will provide the tower bell
Stained Glass Resources of Hampden, Mass. is replacing the sanctuary windows.
There will be various other contractors working on plumbing, heating, flooring, painting and all the other components of the building project, but these are the key firms that will have large responsibilities in the new construction. Green Construction and Restoration Company of Wallingford is the general contractor for the restoration work being done in the Bugbee and Office wings of the facility. The work in the Bugbee wing is nearly done and we hope to have work in the office wing completed by early September.
Our current plan is to have the Somers Cooperative Preschool back in the Bugbee Center in time for the opening of the new school year. There is still work that needs to be completed in that part of the building before that will be a sure thing. Great attention is being paid to making sure the Preschool children and parents – and everyone else who will be using the church parking lot and building – will be safe. The construction manager submitted a plan to the Building Committee showing how they will isolate construction storage and activity from the flow of traffic in the parking lot. There will be a restricted, fenced area for storage. Construction vehicles will be restricted to the former parking lot entrance which has been closed since the fire. Petra has a Safety Officer who will be on site weekly and will do ongoing safety audits throughout the construction process. It will be necessary, of course, for Preschool parents and others using the parking lot and building to adhere to parking signs and regulations and to keep their speed to a “crawl” in order to insure everyone’s safety.
With the Preschool returning to the Bugbee Center we will also be making some adjustments in activities – ours and theirs. The school has been notified that there will be times when the church will need to use the rooms the preschool uses, and school furniture, supplies and so on will need to be moved to the side. This will enable the church to continue to have monthly Community Suppers in Bugbee and also insure that there is handicap access to the first floor of the building. The Christmas Bazaar will pose special challenges to us and discussion is already underway about how to best accommodate the various segments of the Bazaar. With everyone cooperating we should be able to operate on a fairly normal basis.
An important function of the Construction manager is to provide a timeline for construction. Petra has been working on this since before they were hired in May. We felt it was important to have a realistic idea of when construction could begin, what the pace of construction would be and when we should schedule the dedication of the new building. At this point it looks as though we will be celebrating Ground Breaking on or around Homecoming Sunday in September. This is a flexible date. Construction will take about 220 days from ground breaking, which means completion would be in July 2013. Watch this space for updates and a firmer schedule as time passes.
The Building Committee continues to meet weekly and various subcommittees meet between the weekly meetings. There are meetings being held and decisions being made nearly every day. We are blessed to have the dedicated, knowledgeable and available volunteers we have working on this project. The Building Committee continues to welcome your questions and comments about the project. Talk to one of the members, drop a note in the mail, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have think a particular question or area ought to be addressed in this weekly update you can let me know directly at email@example.com.
The Building Committee reviewed the list of required code updates for the building and the recommendations from the organ builder and acoustician. The architects and Petra are working on the cost estimate for building the new church. Janice went with the architect and the construction manager to review the chestnut beams, the granite and the stone that was salvaged from the church to decide how much of it might be used in the new building and to get photos and measurements.
The chapel in the Bugbee Center was used to “tape off,” to scale, the new chancel with cardboard cutouts for furniture. The Board of Deacons reviewed the new arrangement of the communion table, side tables, baptismal font, chairs, pulpit and lectern locations for space allocations on Wednesday night.
The Technology Committee is expecting proposals for the phone and internet rewiring by Monday. They hope to have a recommendation by the end of next week.
The last of eight committees that was formed for the rebuilding was the Costume Committee. Members are Sharon Renzoni, Sally Roig, Edna Smith and Doris Castro. They have already purchased material to make all of the pageant costumes that were lost in the fire. Costumes include one costume for Mary, Joseph, the innkeeper, the male angel and the centurion. Multiple costumes need to be made for the shepherds (18), sheep (12), donkeys (6), goats (6), wise men (3), and angels (24). We are fortunate to have so many expert seamstresses. Although December seems far away, replacement of all of these costumes in order for the pageant to take place this year is not a quick project.
Progress for the office restoration is slow at this point. Fire alarm proposals are being reviewed as well as options for heat capability and bathroom requirements in order to get a certificate of occupancy. Items such as door framing into the “new church” where changes are being made are being reviewed to see if it comes under restoration or new construction. This involves two different contracts with different vendors.
On Sunday, Mark Marschall announced that the Building Committee had hired Petra Construction from North Haven, Connecticut to be the construction manger to build our new church. Guido Petra, the President of Petra Construction, was present for the discussion time after church. Everyone had an opportunity to interact with him and see the presentation of construction projects they had completed. Hugh Schweitzer, one of our architects, was also present with the updated drawings of the new church as well as the kitchen design. Jackie, the color design member of the architect’s team, was also present with a display of the colors of carpet, paints and finishes that the committee is “leaning” towards. It was a great opportunity for everyone to walk around, ask questions and give feedback. As mentioned previously, the building committee is still interested in hearing any thoughts you had about the presentation, please send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The shelves in Champ’s place have all been upgraded so they will be better able to hold the weight of the food stored there. With 85 clients at the food pantry last week, supplies are running low, so food donations are welcome. We now have heavier shelves to hold more food.
Although it may appear that not much has happened in the last week at the church site, the building committee is still working at a very fast pace.
The Building Committee has selected Dan Clayton as the acoustician for the new church building. On Tuesday the Building Committee met with Dan and Ralph Richards, one of our organ builders. The afternoon meeting was a 5-hour session with Noel Petra, of Petra Construction, Dan, Ralph, Hugh and some members of the building committee to work on design development. The contracts for Petra Construction and the organ builder are being reviewed by an attorney.
The Restoration Committee met this week to discuss paint colors and carpet for the church office building. Bids were opened for the fire alarm system that is required in Bugbee and the church office building. Options are still being reviewed for temporary heat in the church office building. Bid specifications for the replacement of phone/internet connections were sent out on Monday. Sheetrock installation cannot begin until the fire alarm system and telecommunications wiring has been completed.
May 30, 2012
The Building Committee continues to make good progress. This week they have been working on choosing a firm to work with the acoustics in the new Meeting House and should be ready to make a formal announcement of their selection on Sunday. Sunday is the day of the important meeting with the Design Team and representatives of the Construction Management Team. The meeting, as we have said, will feature a brief presentation by the design team, a chance for everyone to meet the Construction Managers, and – most exciting – to see some of the finishes we will be using in the new meeting House.
The plan for the meeting is to have lots of items that can be seen on display. Everyone will have a chance to walk around, talk with the Construction Manager and the Design Team and members of the Building Committee, ask questions and get a good understanding of what the new Meeting House will look like.
Progress continues to be made in the Office and Bugbee wings of our church complex. Shelves in Champ’s Place are being upgraded so that they will be better able to hold the weight of the food stored there. Windows have been replaced in the Care Room on the second floor and unusable ceiling pieces have been removed. Work has begun to make it possible to hook the office wing into the Bugbee heating system, a necessary step in getting the office wing up to a level that it can be occupied. We have requested bids from several firms for the Data and Voice systems and the Alarm systems we will need. These will be installed in such a way that they can be hooked into the systems in the new Meeting House when it is built.
We have been discussing the date for groundbreaking and are anxious to be able to share it with the congregation. Although the plans are well underway and many decisions have been made, getting from the design stage to the building stage involves securing multiple approvals from town building and safety officials as well as reaching some level of agreement about the settlement with the insurance company. While we are not ready to make a final settlement, we need to have a shared understanding of the extent of the loss. When we hold the groundbreaking ceremony we will be ready to begin construction and building, and then progress will be very visible.
Through these weekly updates we have been trying to let the congregation know what is going on and keep you abreast of the progress. Each week several committees are hard at work on a variety of activities. While there is not a lot to see, there is a lot being done. If you have specific questions about progress that have not been addressed here yet, please email me, email@example.com, and let me know. I would be happy to answer any question I can. Our goal is to keep everyone as informed as possible.
May 23, 2012
The Building Committee had a marathon nine and a half hour day on May 22 to interview four firms who were vying for the Construction Manager position in our rebuild. All four were well qualified and each had strengths they would bring to the project. By the end of this week we will be ready to announce the firm that has been selected and anticipate that they will begin meeting with the Building Committee next week. The first task of the Construction manager will be to assess the plans for the new Meeting House to determine the estimated cost of construction. This estimate will be given to the Insurance Committee who is in negotiation with the insurance company to come up with the settlement of our claim.
The final piece of work to complete restoration of the Bugbee wing of the church is the installation of new shelving material in Champ’s Place to replace the inadequate shelving installed earlier in the spring. There was a problem with the amount of weight each shelf in each unit could accommodate, so Green Construction will beef up the shelving. All other work is completed. We are still in the process of determining when it will be best to let non-church groups use the facility. The Board of Finance will need to sit down with user groups to be sure it is clear that the church will need to use all of the Bugbee Center more than we have in the past, making it necessary for outside groups to share space. There are no insurmountable obstacles, but it is important for all the lines of communication to be open and working.
Worship and Sunday School will be held in our current location at the Johnson Memorial Medical Center Community Education Building until we are able to get into the new Meeting House in summer 2013.
Bids are being sought for completion of the fire alarm system as well as the phone and internet wiring in the Office and Bugbee wings. This work will be completed before the new sheet rock is installed in the office wing. In the meantime other work is being done. Damaged duct work and the central vacuum system are being removed. A sealant will be sprayed on all the beams, joists, etc. inside the ceilings and walls in order to reduce the smoke odor. The tile floor in the lobby, including the dove symbol, has been cleaned and is looking nearly back to normal. Once other work is completed in the office wing the tile will be cleaned again and then sealed.
The Building Committee is in the process of reviewing proposals received from Acoustic consultants. Again, we have received proposals form well qualified firms which will be reviewed and then a decision about which firm to hire will be made by the building Committee. This decision should be made and announced before our June 3 meeting with the architects.
It cannot be emphasized enough that a lot of very important information will be shared at the June 3 meeting. In addition to the architects, the CHK design team will be present and someone from the Construction management firm as well. Carpet samples, tile samples, paint chips, wood samples, photos, kitchen equipment, and designs for the pulpit, communion table, and baptismal fount will be shared with everyone. This will be the time when it will begin to be clear what the new Meeting house will look like.
Update May 16, 2012
One of the things that I have learned in the past four and a half months about the renovating and rebuilding process is that when things look the slowest they may in fact be very busy. So while there has not been a lot of action to watch about the church this week, there has been plenty of action behind the scenes.
The Building Committee and CHK Architects received the sealed proposals and bids from several firms that are interested in being the Construction Manager for our project. All the members of the committee reviewed all the proposals and after discussion have chosen 4 firms to invite for an interview. The interviews will take place next week and by week’s end we should be ready to offer a contract to one of the firms. Once the choice is made, the Construction manager and CHK will work together to come up with an estimate of cost for the new Meeting House. With this estimate our Insurance Committee will be able to negotiate the settlement with our insurance company.
The design for the kitchen, narthex, sanctuary, balcony and chancel are being tweaked by the CHK Designers to respond to comments and suggestions received at last week’s meetings with members of the church to discuss those areas. There will be another brief review by the Building Committee and other representatives of the changes made before the June 3 Meeting of the architects and congregation. By June 3 the design will be pretty much set and the presentation will show what the Meeting House will look like.
There have been some Requests for Bids issued by the Restoration Committee and the Building Committee. In preparation for sheet rocking and finishing of the office area, it is necessary to complete work on voice, data and alarm systems. Several firms, including local ones have been invited to submit proposals for this work. These will be reviewed by the appropriate committee and contracts will be offered to the best qualified among them. This selection process also included a review of the bids by the insurance company. The Building Committee will also be reviewing proposals submitted by acousticians for their consultation services.
It has been determined that the boiler that heats the Bugbee Center is sufficient to serve as an interim heating system for the office area during construction. Heat is required in order to receive a Certificate of Occupancy from the town. Other work that is being completed in the engineering area includes a review of our sanitation system, a series of borings to determine the capacity of the site to bear the lad of our building (you may see the drilling rig on site for one day), and a flow test to determine the adequacy of our water supply.
On May 20, the Artifacts Committee will make a presentation to the congregation following the 10 o’clock worship service to share information and photos of items that have been salvaged from the fire, thoughts about how some items might be preserved or incorporated in to the new building, and suggestions of appropriate memorials in the new building. They welcome input and hope there will be many people present for their presentation.
The June 3 meeting with CHK architects and designers will be very important. This will be an opportunity for members of the church to see drawings of the proposed building, examples of flooring, color swatches and other displays that’s will help us all get a feel for the Meeting House that will be rising on our site over the next year.
May 8, 2012
The Organ Committee has completed their work and on May 8 recommended that the organ builders Richards, Fowkes & Company be selected as the builders of the organ for our new meeting house. To quote from the Committee’s recommendation:
“They are recognized as one of the premier organ builders in the country, if not the world. Ralph Richards and Bruce Fowkes started their company in 1988 in Ooltewah, Tennessee, a suburb of Chattanooga. Ralph, a native of Wisconsin, studied organ at Oberlin College and then worked for short period with John Brombaugh before founding a company with Paul Fritts in Tacoma, Washington. Bruce grew up in Utah, studied organ at BYU and Utah State before working as an apprentice with Michael Bigelow in Provo, Utah, and later with Matthew Copley in London, England. Over the years they have brought together a group of craftsmen from the United States, England, and France that includes some of the most talented organ builders in America. They have built eighteen organs located throughout America and now in London, England."
The next steps to be taken include having the organ builder and the architect begin to work together to be sure that the organ is designed for the best fit and best sound possible in our new space. Bill Kirkpatrick, Malcolm Chadbourne, Joanne Chadbourne, Heather Loupe, Rob Trusch, Laurie White and our organist, Jackie Nappi, have devoted many long hours to the selection of an organ company, and we are all grateful to them for their commitment.
There has been some further work in the Bugbee Center as the finishing touches are put on everything. A few last pieces of woodwork, some touch up painting and final adjustment of lights and doors will mean the place is in first class condition once again. An issue arose about the load bearing capacity of the new shelves in Champ’s Place and correcting the problem is part of the final work to be done. Otherwise, the place is looking great.
There is some work being done in the Office area. Light fixtures have been taken out to be cleaned. The tile floor will be cleaned and we are hoping the cleaning will restore it to pristine condition. Contractors will be chosen in the coming weeks to install telephone and internet cables and to the install the necessary fire alarm system and the security system. These systems will eventually be tied together with the systems in the new Meeting House.
The Artifacts Committee will be making a presentation to the congregation following worship on May 20. They will be showing pictures of things that have been saved from Pilgrim Hall and will be discussing plans for use of the bell.
A group from the church will be meeting with Jackie Smith, the CHK Designer, this week to begin selecting colors, flooring and furnishings for the Meeting House, Foundation Room, Pilgrim Hall and meeting room. Laurie Gorski, Neil Connell and Laura Driscoll will be part of that group along with Anne Kirkpatrick, Jim Jewell and Mark Marschall from the Building Committee. There will be samples to be shared at the June 3rd meeting with the congregation.
Although we had hoped to be able to gather the “kitchen group” together again next week, that meeting has been postponed because the drawings will not be ready.
Photos have been taken of the trees around the site and a determination will be made about what can be saved and what will be replaced. The Memorial Garden Committee has made initial contact with Moriarty Landscaping about the need to move the steps on the south end of the Memorial Garden to the center of the south wall.
May 3, 2012
Hugh Schweitzer, from CHK architects, met with representatives of the church about the kitchen design on the morning on May 1st and in the evening met with representatives of the Deacons, Ushers and Flower Committee about the narthex, sanctuary and chancel. Both meetings gave members of the church a chance to see the latest update to the design of the Meeting House and to offer comments and suggestions. Both groups had lively and informative discussions which will result in some readjustment of the design. Hugh will meet with both groups again prior to the architects’ June 3rd presentation to the congregation.
Rick Skodinski and the Insurance Committee continue to work with the inventory lists completed by boards, committees and individuals so that we can get a fair settlement and replace all the things that need replacing. Our Public Adjuster is working close with the insurance committee and is interacting with the insurance company.
The Artifacts Committee is researching how best to restore or replace furniture in Pilgrim Hall, and the possibility for having a replica of the Backus chair built. Ailene Henry, the church historian, has been in close touch with the State Archivist as a result of the fire and arrangements have been made for some of our earliest records to be stored in the state archives. Hard copies of early documents have been made which will be kept at the church to assist people researching family and town history. Digital copies of many photographs movies, videos and slides are also being made.
In the next couple of weeks there will also be a group meeting with the interior designer from CHK about floors, walls and other finishes in the new Meeting House. This work is also in preparation for the June 3rd presentation at which flooring, colors and so on will be shown.
The Restoration Committee has continued work and is currently preparing to review contractors to take on the installation of voice, data and alarms systems. This work will be accomplished before the walls have been sheet rocked and the ceilings installed while access is simpler. These systems are being designed to become those which will service the entire complex when our building is complete. The plan includes having internet service available throughout the facility, and making the entire place as secure and safe as possible. There is considerable attention being given to security systems and how we can best balance our desire to be open to everyone in the community while maintaining the safety of people in the building and the security of the building when it is empty.
We had hoped to have a recommendation from the organ committee about the organ builder this week, and they have worked long and hard, reviewing many organ companies and builders, traveling throughout New England to view and hear multiple organs. As of this writing, though the choice has been narrowed, their final recommendation is not yet ready. Organ committee representatives will be meeting with the architects and Building Committee on May 8, at which time the recommendation for organ builder should be made and we will be able to move ahead in this important area.
It is not too late (though almost) to get your thoughts to the Building Committee. Although they have received many ideas and suggestions, there are probably still many of you who have not yet shared yours. Why not write them down today and e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop them by the Office to be passed along, or bring them on Sunday and give them to Barry or Anne or any of the members of the Building Committee? We really want everyone to be included in the process that will result in a beautiful new Meeting House.
April 25, 2012
We waited for the electricity to be turned back on in the office section of our facility so the elevator could be tested and get underway with the restoration there. The power was restored on Monday and the elevator turned on. It runs! There will need to be some further testing and some adjustments, but we are pleased that the elevator works. Restoring power in that section of the building also meant we have been able to turn on the lights on the parking lot, making the area safer and more secure.
Final touches are being completed in the Bugbee Center to get that to 100%. A lot of little things, like trim work, touch-up painting and furniture arranging take time and are being finished this week. The Tag Sale and several Board and Committee meetings are taking place in the Bugbee Center rooms. Champ’s Place is open, refrigerator and freezers are in place and this was the second week clients were able to be served.
Behind the scenes, designs are being completed for necessary emergency, safety and security alarm systems. Once the plans are completed requests for bids will be issued and a contractor will be selected to do the necessary work. The alarms will be installed in the existing facility with a capacity to include the Meeting House when it is completed. It is wise to be doing the wiring before the sheet rocking and painting are done in the office area. Necessary wiring will also be installed for data and communication. These systems are also being designed to include the new building when it is done.
Contact is being made with various individuals and firms who have shown an interest in taking of the position of Construction Manager and candidates will be interviewed in the near future by the Building Committee and Architects. Once the Construction manager has been selected work will be done with the architects to review plans and begin to put together a clear estimate of cost for the entire project. A time frame for finishing the work will also be put together at that time. CHK will have plans ready so that bids can be sought to do the work. The Construction Manager will work to secure and review bids, and with the building committee, choose contractors to complete construction.
In the next couple of weeks the Building Committee and architects will be meeting with various Boards and Committees of the church to consider the designs for the kitchen, sanctuary, chancel, narthex, meeting rooms and dining room. They will be considering such things as amenities, layout, furnishings, floor cover and wall colors. The hope is to include as many of the suggestions and address as many of the concerns expressed by church members as possible. We cannot stress often enough that all suggestions submitted to the Building Committee will be part of the discussions and an effort is being made to include all the “stake holders” in the various areas of the complex.
The Building Committee has set June 3 as the date for the next presentation to the congregation. That meeting will include a time for sharing room layouts, sample materials, fairly detailed drawings of what things will look like and the overall appearance of the exterior and interior of the new Meeting House. The meeting will take place following the 10 o’clock worship service at the JMMC Community Education Center.
Tolland, East Windsor, Union, Manchester (2nd), Suffield (1st), East Hartford, Barkhamstead, Willington, Springfield (Faith) and Somers; this is a partial list of churches in the local area built in the neo-gothic style. All of them have steeples of the same design as the one that graced our Meeting House, which was common on churches built in the mid-nineteenth century. They are complete as they stand and the addition of a spire at the top of the steeple would destroy the uniformity of the style, making them something other than neo-gothic. Although most of the churches mentioned here are constructed with wood, the style was used extensively to build stone churches. I have not seen anything in the history of our church that discusses why this style was chosen. A new Meeting House in the neo-gothic style will be constructed to replace the building lost in the January 1, 2012 fire.
April 11, 2012
Tuesday, April 10th was the one hundredth day after the fire. The past 100 days have been filled with ups and downs, and a good deal of hard work. The members and friends of the church have pulled together as never before, and we have made an incredible amount of progress in recovering from the fire and moving into the future we are even now defining. I am grateful for the continuing outpouring of support for the church and for me as your pastor. I never could have begun to imagine what we would be able to face and what we would be able to accomplish together.
The next meeting of the architects from CHK with the congregation will be this coming Sunday, April 15, following the 10 o’clock worship service. Hugh Schweitzer and Rich Kaiser will be present a long with a couple of other members of their design team. They will be showing the congregation the proposed floor plan for the new meeting house. The plan includes the layout for three floors (Foundation Room, Sanctuary and Balcony) showing where the various rooms will be, access to all the floors, and exits and necessary adjustments. The Building Committee and architects presented this plan and received positive reviews from the Church Council on April 10. Following review and input from the congregation Sunday a plan will be accepted by the Building Committee.
There have been 42 submitted suggestions from the congregation, and there is still time to get yours in. The layout of the building will be set next week, but there is still work to be done on specific design for the kitchen, foundation room, sanctuary, Pilgrim Hall, meeting rooms and balcony. The Building Committee has reviewed each comment sent in and will continue to do so, giving careful consideration to all of your ideas. Suggestions and comments can be mailed to PO Box 295, Somers, CT 06071, emailed to email@example.com, dropped off at the church office, or given to a member of the Building Committee or to Barry. It is crucial that comments be submitted in a timely fashion. Suggestions about design are sought at this point, and should be submitted in the next week or so.
The Bugbee Center will be inspected by the town building officials on Friday, April 13, and if all goes well (and we expect that it will) a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued at that time. This will make it possible for us to use only the Bugbee Center portion of the complex. The Community Supper is planned for Sunday April 15 in the Bugbee Center. We will also be able to use the upstairs rooms for board and committee meetings. Champ’s Place will be moving back to the Bugbee Center on April 14 and open for business there on April 16.
It is important to note that even when the Bugbee Center is available for use, the Office area, lobby, and second floor area by Rm. 206 will be off limits. It is also important for everyone to sign in at the church office trailer before going into the Bugbee Center. We will be using the space that is available while there is construction going on in the Office area and later, while the Meeting House is being built.
There will be a special Church Council meeting Tuesday, April 10th at 7:00 pm in the trailer for a presentation by the architects of the proposed floor plans and exterior views for our new Meeting House. This will be the only item on the agenda.
The architects will present the plans and views to the congregation on Sunday, April 15th after the 10 am service.
The Building Committee has been working with the architects and is ready to share preliminary plans for the new Meeting House with the Church Council and the congregation. The plans evolved over a few weeks as the whole team worked to blend the “must haves” and the “nice to haves” as well as suggestions received from the congregation. Thought has been given to handicap access and necessary safety code updates. On Sunday, April 15 the team from CHK Architects will make a presentation of the plans to the congregation. They will also be sharing some drawings of the exterior of the building as it will look. There is still plenty of work to be done, and there will undoubtedly be changes to the plans, but those shown on the 15th will represent the concepts that are becoming clear. The Church Council will have a special meeting on April 10 to see the plans and drawings that will be presented to the congregation on the 15th.
As announced on Sunday, April 1, the Building Committee has received the recommendation of the Organ Committee for the placement of the organ in the new sanctuary. The Organ Committee’s report indicates there was much consultation with organists and other experts from outside the church as well as much consideration of a wide variety of information received. Their final recommendation, accepted by the Building Committee, is that the organ be in the balcony in the same location as the organ was in the Meeting House before it burned. Now the Organ Committee needs to choose a company to install the new instrument when the space is ready. They are scheduled to make a recommendation about this to the Building Committee by May 1.
Work in the Bugbee Center is nearly done. The last bits of painting are being finished, the new carpet and tile have been installed and remaining carpet and floors have been cleaned. New plumbing fixtures have been installed as needed, and cabinets, doors and locks are to be installed before the end of this week. Shelving for Champ’s Place is due to arrive tomorrow and to be installed as soon as possible.
If all the materials arrive as scheduled and there are not hold-ups with installation, the Bugbee Center should be finished and ready to be given a Certificate of Occupancy by town building authorities by April 13. This being the case, the plan is still to have the Community Supper on April 15 in the Bugbee Center. A final decision about the location will be made before Sunday April 8 so we can make announcements as necessary in church that day. PLEASE plan to attend the supper; it will be a great chance to see the restored Bugbee Center.
Following the completion of the work in the Bugbee Center, work will commence in the Office area, Room 206 and the Care Center. In those areas no work beyond the clean-up has been done, so there is wiring to be done, sheetrock to install, painting and flooring to be done. The biggest issue in this area of the building is lack of heat. Before the fire, this part of the facility was heated by the boiler located across from the kitchen in the Meeting House. Since that boiler was destroyed there is no heat and no hot water in the office area. In order to be allowed to use the offices heat and hot water will have to be distributed to the rest rooms on both the first and second floors. We have an engineering firm working on a design for a temporary system with a boiler located in the first floor lobby. Once this plan is approved and the boiler is installed we will be well along the way to receiving a Certificate of Occupancy for that part of the facility.
The Memorial Garden Committee went to work shortly after the fire to clean up the garden. They did necessary work to keep it safe through the winter and to minimize damage. Now that spring is here they are doing more extensive work on the flower beds and to restore shrubs and plants in and around the garden. Because of construction of the new Meeting House, there will be little to do in the west lawn. Once building is complete a landscaping plan will be designed for that area. There is debris in the flower beds that is being removed. Most of the area will probably be mulched in the near future. On Saturday, March 7, there will be a crew in the Garden working from about 8 A.M. on and they would welcome help.
There have been more fund raising events in the past couple of weeks. We are grateful to our friends at Blair Manor for the successful spaghetti supper there on March 31, and to Rick Sylvester who was the evening’s entertainment. The Somers business owners had a successful silent auction recently as well, and our friends at Evergreen also had a fund raiser. The teachers at Stafford High contributed funds raised through the dress down days to the church building fund. We are grateful for all these efforts, and to all the groups and individuals who continue to contribute to the building fund. We urge members of the church to support these businesses and groups, not just for the fund raisers but in general.
MARCH 27, 2012
As of this past weekend the demolition of the Meeting House has been completed. All the wood was disposed of, the foundation was knocked in and the site has been graded. A crew came to “cap” the end of the remaining facility to keep it safe from the elements and neighborhood critters. The paper towel dispenser that had been hanging outside on the second floor was removed. Once the slab has been removed the site will be ready for preparation for the beginning of construction early this summer. It is hard to believe that it has been less than three months since the fire destroyed our church building.
As a way to both mark significant progress and to move ahead, we will be holding a brief Prayer Service on the site following worship on April 1st. The service, which will begin at noon, will include a hymn, litany and the distribution of nails from the Meeting House. Our church Historian, Ailene Henry, has found documents that show when the contracts were set for the building of the Meeting House, the architect, Daniel Colton of Longmeadow, agreed to have the facility ready for the church to use on January 1, 1843, exactly 169 years to the day of the fire.
In the course of the demolition the crew was able to salvage some wood furniture from Pilgrim Hall, including three side chairs, one arm chair, one rocker, one 4 drawer cherry chest, the clock and the cherry tilt top table. We are hoping to get all of these pieces refinished for use in the new building when it is complete. Other items were lost.
Even as demolition was ongoing in the front of the property restoration was continuing in the Bugbee Center portion. Painting on both floors should be finished by the end of next week. The upstairs hardwood hallway floor is being refinished this week. Because of the floor work being done, no one should be in the building until the end of next week – April 6. This will ensure a good finish on the floor. Tile and carpet will be installed on all the floors on the first level and as necessary on the second. This work should be completed by Wednesday, April 4. Carpets not being replaced on the second floor will be cleaned.
There are a few things that need to be taken care of before we can begin to use the Bugbee Center. Smoke detectors must be installed in each room and in the hallways. Fire and smoke detection will eventually be part for the system that will cover the entire facility, but there will be detectors on a temporary basis to maintain safety. There are several light fixtures that needed to be replaced in the hallways as well as the installation of several up-to-date Exit signs. Doors that were damaged by water must also be replaced before we can use the building.
We still plan on hosting the April 15 Community Supper in the Bugbee Center, but watch this space for further updates. Please sign-up for the supper at church on Sunday or by calling or emailing the church office.
March 20, 2012
Things look different at 599 Main Street! The demolition crew has been at work for a week and will be finishing up the job this week. The walls have been taken down, the metal separated, the hazardous materials handled with caution and most everything cleaned up. It is good to note that as the demolition progressed the crew was able to recover some of the wooden furniture from Pilgrim Hall which can be refinished and put back in use. They were not able to recover the marble or brass plaques that we had been hoping to find. Sadly, as everything around begins to green-up this spring we are seeing that we have lost most of the shrubbery and trees that adorned the lawns around the Meeting House. These will be on the list for replacement as time goes on.
We had a great meeting with Rich Kaiser, Hugh Schweitzer and Jackie Smith from CHK Architects after church this past Sunday. They presented us with an overview of their company (lots of impressive work done) and outlined the process to be followed for the design and rebuild of our church. A few church members had questions which they answered. Among the important things taken away from this meeting is the fact that it is not too late to share thoughts and ideas with the Building Committee. Not all ideas will be included in the final design, but every one received by the committee will be reviewed by committee members and the CHK team. You can pass along your thoughts in person with any member of the committee, by using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address, or by submitting a hard copy of your comments to the church office.
Throughout the rebuilding process we hope to continue to have weekly updates on activity here on the website and in hard copy on Sundays. Notes from the Building, Organ, Restoration and Insurance Committees will be part of the monthly notes from the Church Council meetings printed in the newsletter. Everyone is committed to making the entire building project as open to the congregation as possible and will continue to communicate often. Anyone with a question at any time is encouraged to be in touch with the Building Committee, the Moderator or me so your concern can be addressed.
The Entrance driveway has been blocked and should be used by construction vehicles only. The Exit driveway has been made 2-way, with a new line and new arrows, and soon there will be new signs to help everyone find their way into and out of the parking lot. Please enter and leave the church grounds with extreme caution. Also, please note that the remaining buildings of the church are still not open. No one should be inside the area without specific authorization and nothing should be removed from the site. There are areas of the site that are extremely dangerous and we need your cooperation to avoid injuries.
Painting is nearly completed in the Bugbee Center. Once the painting is done work will begin refinishing wood floors in the Music Room and upstairs hallway and the landings at the top of the stairways. Tile will be installed in the places where there was tile previously, and carpet installed where there was carpet. All the flooring on the first floor will be new, as will the carpet in the connecting hall on the second floor. Remaining carpet on the second floor will be cleaned. In some cases carpet will be removed, a new pad installed and carpet re-laid. All of the lower cabinets on the first floor will be replaced as well as all of the cabinets and appliances in the Bugbee kitchen.
No work has been started on the restoration in the office area or room 206. This area will have removed sheetrock replaced, walls and ceiling painted and new flooring installed. This will need to be completed before the offices can be moved out of the trailer. There will also be a temporary boiler installed to heat the offices and second floor. The boiler was destroyed in the fire, but in order for us to be allowed to use the space a heating system must be in place.
March 13, 2012
Today there are workers beginning the demolition of the Meeting House rubble. Since this morning they have been working to make a clear break between the part to be demolished and the part that will remain. If one looks carefully, a distinct opening is visible. A couple of additional dumpsters have been brought in to receive the stuff that will be hauled away. Janice Morton, chair of the Artifacts Committee, has spoken with the gentleman in charge of the demotion and has found him to be very cooperative. He will be keeping an eye out for anything that might be meaningful, for instance the brass and marble plaques that were in the narthex, sanctuary and foundation room. The heat of the fire (as much as 1200 degrees and more) pretty much destroyed everything, so there is not a lot of hope that anything significant will be found, but it is good to know the demolition crew is aware of our attachment and the importance of securing artifacts.
Last week the asbestos removal was completed in the Bugbee Center and office area, and the sheet rocking crew got right to work. The installation of insulation and sheetrock has been virtually completed, and the painting crews will be moving in to begin with later this week or early next week. We have had Green Construction Co. hire local paint contractors. It is our intention to use, whenever possible, local people and to purchase needed supplies locally. The rooms in the Bugbee Center will be painted an off white color, but other colors that were used by the Sunday School and the Preschool will be matched. Water and heat have been restored to the Bugbee Center.
The Building Committee has met several times with the architects and is in the process of gathering information and input from members of the congregation. They will review all of the suggestions turned in on the survey forms, and they will be meeting with several groups in the church. Today a very productive session was held with several people who had insight and suggestions about a new church kitchen.
The organ committee has met on a regular basis and is nearly ready to make recommendations to the building committee about placement of the organ. They also will be suggesting an organ builder. It is important for the organ builder to be able to provide input to the architects as early in the design process as possible.
The Insurance committee is continuing to deal with all the aspects of coming up with a settlement from the insurance company. They have been working with the Public Adjuster to deal with all the contents that needs to be replaced, and with the Estimator, with whom they are fine tuning the estimate for the cost of replacing the Meeting House. All of this is tedious and time consuming work, but vitally important to the ongoing process of rebuilding.
Please remember that the whole facility is an active construction site and is still off limits to people for the most part. It is also a hard hat area, so if someone does enter the facility, they must be wearing a hard hat.
The Board of House and Grounds is installing new signs in the next day or two, making it clear that the former church entrance driveway is now to be used only by construction vehicles. The former exit has become two-way. Of course everyone is urged to use extreme caution entering and exiting the church parking lot.
By the end of this week there should be plenty to see in terms of change at the Meeting House site. The asbestos abatement in the Bugbee Center and office area was completed over the weekend, the testing was done and approval was given by the state for us to re-occupy the facility. The completion of the asbestos removal means that we will have access to both floors of the Bugbee Center and office area and work can begin to get these areas into shape. Work to be done includes replacing insulation and sheet rock where it was removed due to water damage, painting all walls and ceilings, cleaning carpets on the second floor of Bugbee and replacing all carpet on the first floor, installing tile on the first floor of Bugbee and refinishing some hardwood floors on the second floor. Cabinets and counter tops will be replaced in all rooms and a new stove and refrigerator will be put in the Bugbee kitchen.
On Wednesday work will begin on the demolition of the rubble where the Meeting House stood. Heavy equipment will be on the site. The demolition process will take about two weeks. The demolition site remains hazardous and access to it is not permitted. Members of the Artifacts Committee have spoken with those who will carry out the demolition and given them a “heads-up” about some significant material that may be found in the rubble. We are particularly interested in the brass and marble plaques that were on walls in the sanctuary, narthex and foundation room, as well as any significant piece of stained glass. The folks doing the demolition have been very open to helping locate whatever might be found.
The Building Committee continues to meet with the architects from CHK. At present they are compiling an overview of how the rooms in the Meeting House were used and for what, and ways the space might be better utilized in the future. The Committee is very sensitive to the fact that people would like to have things rebuilt as they were, but is also aware that there will be necessary changes due to the need to meet current safety and occupancy codes. There will be some changes that will help us make more efficient use of the space and others that will reduce our operating costs.
All of the ideas that members of the church have submitted through the survey are being compiled and will be shared with the architects next week. Although I have not looked at them all, I have noted that there are many that are similar, with ideas about make the building safer and more convenient. All those ideas are most welcome.
REMEMBER Rich Kaiser and Hugh Schweitzer from CHK will be meeting with members of the church following worship on March 18, in the auditorium at the Community Education Center at JMMC. This will be a great time to hear about the approach CHK is taking with our project, and to be involved in sharing ideas about the project.
Please note that the supper to have been served by the Enfield Congregational Church this month has been cancelled and the Jolly Beggars concert has also been cancelled. Our friends at Blair Manor will be putting on a pasta supper on March 31 to contribute to our building fund. The United Church of Christ in Lebanon, Connecticut hosted a pancake breakfast last weekend as a benefit for us.
We are still collecting photographs of the building and events that took place there, so if you have not yet contributed any, please do so. You can send them to us electronically at email@example.com, or bring hard copies to church or to the office and we can scan them and return your hard copies.
From the look of things, it would appear that there is not much going on, but the past week has been very busy and a lot of progress is being made. On February 21, the Church Council, acting on the recommendation of the Building Committee, voted to secure the services of CHK, Clohessy, Harris & Kaiser, LLC as architects for the rebuild of the Meeting House. CHK was selected after the Building Committee met with and considered several firms. Members of the Building Committee began work with CHK the day after the Council meeting and the full committee met with Rich Kaiser and Hugh Schweitzer on February 28.
The initial part of the process will be gathering information and suggestions, reviewing the needs and wants of the congregation and beginning to put together a vision for what is to be built. Although there is a general consensus that we want “what was there before” there will be necessary changes to meet current codes, and some upgrades and enhancements that will improve our facility. In order to get the process going full speed, the CHK team will meet with members of the church following worship on Sunday, March 18, in the auditorium at the Community Education Building at JMMC. This will be an important time for members of the church to meet the architects and to get a clear understanding of what will be involved in the rebuild.
The Building Committee is reviewing all the suggestions that have been given to them on the survey forms. Final decisions about various items will be made as the project proceeds and members of the church will be kept informed at every step along the way.
The removal of asbestos is being done in the Bugbee Center and Office area of the church. The entire building has been sealed and only authorized (and properly attired) workers are permitted inside. It is expected that the asbestos removal will take up to 3 weeks. Once the building has been cleaned of asbestos, workers will begin replacing damaged sheetrock, insulation, flooring and ceilings. Floor refinishing, carpet cleaning and installation and painting will be done then and the Bugbee Center will be useable. The Restoration Committee has already chosen carpet, cabinets, paint and appliances, so the work can begin as soon as possible.
We are hoping to be able to use the building for church activities in late spring and early summer. The Somers Cooperative Preschool will be able to return to the building in time for school to open in the fall.
The office area of the church will take a little longer to bring back to a useable state. Because there is an issue with the heat – this area was heated by the boiler across from the kitchen in the Meeting House – it was decided to move ahead with restoration of the Bugbee Center while the heating issues are worked out. This means we will be in the trailer for a while longer.
Demolition of the remains of the Meeting House has been delayed because there was a concern about cross-contamination between it and the rest of the building. Demolition will begin as soon as the asbestos removal is completed. There is some heavy equipment on site already and the demolition company is preparing everything possible so that there will be no delay in the demolition once it is allowed. It cannot be emphasized enough that the entire area inside the fence on the site is considered hazardous. No one is allowed inside the fence, and all material within the fence is hazardous. Anyone going inside the fence is trespassing and anything removed from anywhere on the site is stolen property.
In an effort to ensure the safety of all, the Church Council agreed to make the former parking lot exit two way – and requests that everyone use that driveway as both Entrance and Exit for the foreseeable future. The Board of House and Grounds will have appropriate signage installed very soon.
The Organ Committee has been hard at work listening to various organs, meeting organ builders and touring one organ company’s facility. In addition to choosing an instrument to replace our organ they are also thinking about the location of the organ (where it was or some other location) and working to be sure the new organ can be installed when appropriate as the Meeting House is rebuilt.
The Artifacts Committee continues to work with the demolition people to secure from the site any items that may be of historical value to the church or of help to the architects as they work to help us replace the building.
A word about the material found at the State Library: Although the drawings and other paperwork we had stored at the State Library is of interest to members of the church and has historical value, they do not provide any detail information that could be used in the rebuild. The hand drawn sketch of the footprint of the proposed building and the written descriptions of construction requirements are fun to see and do indicate the care and concern of the church and the builders, but are not detailed enough to be of service in 2012, one hundred and seventy years after the construction they describe.
Over the next few months we will be working to gather information for the reconstruction of the History Wall that was in the Foundation Room. We are particularly interested in replacing the photos of past pastors. If you happen to have a picture of one of them, perhaps from a wedding, baptism or other event, we would appreciate having a copy of it. They can be dropped off at the Office or e-mailed through our web site www.somerscongregational.org