Master Plan Update: Let’s Revitalize Grace!

By John Bodine


We have completed two Master Plan Town Hall dates, August 20 and October 8, each with two sessions for discussing ideas with Grace Members. Attendance was very good at each of the four sessions, with general questions dominating in August and more probing questions and opinion commentary in October. This reflects the interest in the project and the thinking, absorption, and member dialogue on Master Plan concepts between the two dates.

Key learnings from the Town Hall discussions:

•   If the Narthex is to be enlarged to create a Gathering Space near the Sanctuary, offices and the receptionist should remain near the main entrance.

•   Many like the idea of enlarging the Narthex as a Gathering Space, though most members support a “partial” expansion that can keep offices near the main entrance.

•   There is strong encouragement for upgrading the Children’s Education Wing.

•   Comments are unanimous in support of Upper Level & Lower Level (UL & LL) handicap/family restrooms.

•   We should recognize that the Door # 4 entrance into the Kitchen and Fellowship Hall may be the entrance used by more of the public than any other due to frequent large events in Fellowship Hall, and we should make it as presentable and welcoming as the main entrance.

•   The vestibule for Door # 4 is recognized as quite small and awkward for large events, BUT, we should not enlarge it at the expense of the kitchen without a detailed and acceptable redesign plan for the kitchen.

•   Attractive and effective signage is a high priority both outside and inside Grace for directing parking, signaling correct entrances for events, and wayfinding once inside the building.

•   There is still a need for storage at Grace to reduce clutter. A Phase 1 plan that avoids moving offices to the Lower Level may enable underutilized spaces under the Activity Center to be used for storage.

•   Several members expressed concern that the Chapel might be moved to a smaller space. A Phase I could plan keep the chapel in its current location.

•   We must keep in mind costs of furniture, appliances, and electronics are add-ons to original Master Plan quotes.

•   We should factor in costs of other projects besides the Master Plan when considering available funds, including
      o  Kitchen appliance updates
      o  New roof - needed in 5 -7 years
      o  Sanctuary Lighting controls
      o  Sanctuary Audio/Visual enhancements
      o  HVAC chiller replacement outside Room 254
      o  Humidity control for the Music Department spaces

•   Members may not have an appetite for another capital campaign so soon after the 2013-2016 campaign.

•   The available funds are designated for capital improvements and cannot be used for budgeted operating expenses.

In light of these discussions and continued work by the Grace Projects Team, a Phase 1 plan is being shaped that will work to accomplish Vision Team objectives while taking member concerns into account. Objectives include Outreach (O), Children & Young Families (CYF), and Adult Ministries (AM). A preliminary set of Phase 1 priorities include:

•   Sprinkler Installation – prerequisite for any structural work at Grace (Maintenance) 

•   Improve Outdoor Signage – this is a critical need for guests and visitors (O, CYF)

•   Children’s Education Wing refurbishing – there is solid support for this. (O, CYF)

•   Handicap / Family Restroom installation – there is solid support for this. (O, AM, CYF)

•   Gathering Space enhancement through partial expansion of the Narthex - Details are being worked out, but offices and the receptionist will remain near each other and the main entrance. (O, CYF, AM)

•   Upgrade all Plumbing Fixtures – modernizing our fixtures will save money and improve first impressions (O)

•   Renovate corridors in the Education Wing (UL & LL) – décor, lighting, and wayfinding will be improved (O, CYF, AM)

•   Improve Indoor Signage – this is a critical need for guests and visitors (O)

•   Kitchen Appliance renewal – a new dishwasher has been long in need (O, AM, CYF)

Next steps involve developing a short list of potential projects for Phase 1 improvements and reviewing with Grace Trustees and Church Council for approval. We’ll then develop focused project teams and work to obtain improved cost estimates so we can line projects up against available funds. We’ll assess if a capital campaign will be needed to help cover any unfunded costs. At this point we would anticipate that, if a capital campaign is needed, it would be capped at about $500,000. A capital campaign would require a Church Conference with a Member vote.  It is exciting to see the needs and desires of the congregation come together to support the mission of Grace!  
* (UL) Upper Level, (LL) Lower Level, Outreach (O), Children & Young Families (CYF), and Adult Ministries (AM)