Since school is back in session and most parishioners who’ve been away during the summer are now home, I think it’s a good time to give you an update on some of the work that’s been in progress at Saint James over the last few months.
There’s been a lot of action! I’ll give you the highlights – but I first want to express enormous thanks for yeoman work to facilities manager Rich Yirga and his staff, as well as to loyal parishioner Charlie Crocini, chair of our Building and Grounds Committee, who has been doing incredible volunteer work for us.
Last spring I showed you drawings of our most ambitious project to date: the addition to the Saint James Street side of the church, including an interior staircase; reconstruction of a portion of the foundation; and construction of a handicapped-accessible bathroom on the main floor – a concept we’ve been working on for some time. We have invited six reputable contractors to bid on that work, and this past Friday we did a “walk-through” with those who expressed interest. In just a few weeks – once the bidders have had an opportunity to consult with the sub-contractors they would use – they will submit bids to us. We will then select a contractor and submit that information to the Archdiocese for approval – a process that will likely take several weeks.
It is my hope that we can begin the exterior work by late fall, so that the interior work might progress over the winter.
Conference Room 1 has been totally renovated! We have repaired, repainted, replaced wiring and lighting, re-carpeted, installed a steel beam enabling us to eliminate the column in the middle of the room, and purchased new furniture. The work is now completed (we’re just waiting for the tables to be delivered). This room is used for many classes, for Baptism preparation, and for several small group meetings, and I think everyone will appreciate the fact that the room is now air-conditioned!
We’ve completed several other small projects in the church, including building lockable closets in the back of the hall and replacing the lighting on the exterior of the church and in the parking lot with energy-efficient LED lights.
We completed a major (and long overdue) project in the rectory – replacing all the old windows with insulated windows. This is important progress from an energy-efficiency standpoint, and I anticipate this should save us a fair amount of heating and cooling expense.
My rooms (bedroom and sitting room) are still a work in progress, but I’m sure the improvement will be well worth the wait! The insulation and wiring have been brought up to current standards, and the rooms have been painted for the first time in more than 20 years! And especially important to me, for obvious reasons: the space in now more handicapped-accessible. I’m looking forward to moving out of the guest room, where I’ve been living for nearly a year while the work has been underway.
We’ve made significant progress in the school over the summer months – including putting a new roof on the original school building! We have performed several heating upgrades, and installed a new computer server and upgraded computer hardware and software throughout the school. In addition, Rich and his crew did a tremendous job of cleaning and polishing, and Saint James School was in excellent shape to greet our 405 students on their return last week.
An important note: all school expenses are kept separate from church expenses, and are paid for from a separate account. I include information on the work we’ve done at the school over the summer so that you will have a complete picture of what’s been going on here.
Needless to say, all this work doesn’t come cheap. I don’t know yet what the church renovation work will cost, and won’t until the bids come in. I’ll give you that information as soon as a contract is awarded.
You’re well aware that I’ve been asking your financial help for several years, and you have responded with extraordinary generosity. With your help we have undertaken several major (and necessary) projects, including replacing the boilers, updating our electrical system, and installing a security system. Unfortunately, I’ll need to ask for your generosity once again in the Annual Parish Appeal letter I will soon send you.
Once the church addition is completed and paid for, we’ll have to deal with replacing the roof, for I’m afraid our ancient, multi-layered one is on its last legs. (When the roof was patched last spring the contractor told us it wouldn’t last much longer.) I have been advised that to cover t hat large expense we’ll have to undertake a capital campaign. I’m consulting with experts on how to best do that, and will let you know when I have a good handle on the best way to proceed.
I am so grateful to you for your strong support of Saint James, and for your understanding of the importance not only of maintaining our facilities but also of continually improving and upgrading them to assure that Saint James Church will remain your safe, accessible and beautiful spiritual home for many decades to come.