Mar 07 2015

Next Steps Task Force Update

February Update from the Next Steps Task Force

We have received the cost estimates for renovations to our Parish House (the RE wing), Chapel, and Sanctuary that will significantly improve the accessibility of our space for worship, learning, meetings and fellowship and to further add to our reputation as a welcoming and safe community. As promised, we are sharing these figures with you to keep you informed so that we can engage in a discussion, and eventually a vote, on how we move forward with this project.

Our architect recommends that we consider separating the project into two phases with each phase consisting of two components.

  • Phase 1A The first phase,  is the most expensive component of the project.   It involves significant renovations to the Parish House so that we can install a newer and larger elevator that can be operated by just a single individual wishing to access the different levels of First Parish (the Vestry and the first and second floors).   Phase 1A adds a new handicapped bathroom to the second floor, a new main entrance on Westford Street, and accessible office and meeting space for our staff, members and visitors. The cost estimate for Phase 1A is $1,475,000.
  • Phase 1B replaces classroom space that we will lose due to the elevator installation in the Parish House. The architect’s design adds classroom space to the Chapel by raising the Chapel’s roof and adding a second floor. The cost estimate for Phase 1B is $636,000.
  • Phase 2A provides greater accessibility to our historic Sanctuary to make the worship space more accommodating and welcoming to all. More space would be created in the Sanctuary, the balcony would be renovated so that it is safer, and new stairs and an elevator installed to make balcony access much, much easier for all. New stairs would also be constructed to make the trip from the Vestry to the Sanctuary less of a climb. The cost estimate for Phase 2A is $923,000.
  • Phase 2B creates a new sunspace addition to the Vestry overlooking the south or Littleton Road side of the Vestry. The cost for Phase 2B is $299,000.

One final note about the cost estimates. These estimates assume that we will begin construction in the spring of 2015.   Since that is currently not the plan, we need to assume a cost escalation to the project of, according to the architect, 8-10% per year.

With these numbers in hand, we are in the preliminary stage of talking to several fundraising experts about our capacity to undertake a capital campaign to support a project like this. As we have done with the architectural plan, we will do our research and present the information to you in a timely manner.

We know that this is a lot of information to take in. We will be scheduling several cottage meetings to discuss the plans, including a meeting with the architect, David Torrey, who will present the plans in much greater detail. Stay tuned for more information about the date and time of the cottage meetings.   In addition, the Next Steps Task Force will be briefing the Standing Committee about the plans at the February 10 meeting. The Standing Committee meets in the Alliance Parlor at 7:00 p.m. and its meetings are open to all.

Stewardship is a cornerstone of our covenant and a spiritual practice that we have consistently acted on when called to do so. We have a great legacy of making capital improvements to the Sanctuary, Parish House and Chapel as is needed and as the times demand. It is in that spirit that we ask you to keep an open mind about the possibilities before us and consider how we achieve together, as Robert Frost said, an “old fashioned way to be new.”

Please see John Schneider if you have any questions ([email protected]), or any other member of the Next Steps Task Force: David Blackburn, Joan Keane, Chris Sweetnam, Ron Deschenes and Tom Coffey.

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee is the Church's governing board. The Standing Committee works to ensure the vitality of our community of faith. There are 10 members of the Standing Committee – nine voting members elected by the congregation and the minister, who is a non-voting member of the Committee. Standing Committee members serve a 3 year term.

The Standing Committee meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm. Time is set aside at the beginning of every SC meeting as an open forum for members to bring forward any issues they would like to discuss.

The Standing Committee is responsible for the health and well being of First Parish. This includes maintaining communication among members and committees, managing Church property, and planning for the Church's short and long-term future. And of course members of the Standing Committee develop and manage the budget approved by the Congregation at the annual meeting.
The Human Resources Committee is a sub-committee of the Standing Committee.