In the past few years, our congregation has been actively engaged in exploring the core issue of whether it can ultimately fulfill its Mission within our current spatial environment that does not provide an inclusive and optimal experience. As we looked to the future, discussions also focused on what would be the most balanced and effective use of available funds to address necessary capital improvements.
The first step towards developing options for long term sustainability was taken in 2015, when the Board commissioned a Property Condition Report to get a grasp on the potential and liabilities of the existing building campus and adjoining site, and some conceptual estimates for potential repairs and deferred maintenance work. We have made good progress over the last two years with completing some major maintenance work, e.g., the partial parking lot repaving, replacement of the wood frames for the sanctuary and parish hall windows, resurfacing the youth center roof, replacing the carpet in the balcony, and refurbishing the Youth Center.
The next step was to get feedback from the congregation on key priorities and areas of concerns with our current building. The January 2017 World Café UU Style workshop conducted by the Board and the Strategic Planning Committee helped identify a range of issues of importance to our members, from the physical aspects of the campus (visibility, barrier-free accessibility, flexibility, audio-visual and IT infrastructure, etc) to the aesthetic quality of the experience. The workshop also examined potential avenues to greater fiscal sustainability.
Throughout our discussion, areas of immediate concern emerged:
- barrier-free accessibility throughout the building,
- improved restroom amenities,
- flexible seating arrangements and improved audiovisual systems in the Sanctuary,
- updated space to enhance gatherings in both the Sanctuary and Parish Hall.
The Board recently retained the design firm Past Forward Architecture to study these four critical topics and provide a roadmap feasibility study to explore options and costs to address these issues. As we start the process of exploring options, we want to offer everyone an opportunity to provide more input on needs and desires for our building focused on the four priority items identified in the World Café sessions.
We would welcome your feedback and look forward to hearing from you. Please send your suggestions or concerns to Strategicplan@firstuuwilm.org. Also, please look for announcements of future feedback “chats” with the Board.