UUCA – Report, Priorities Committee Report Jan 22, 1967


The Priorities Committee has been charged with investigating costs and related factors that would be involved in expanding our present facilities to accommodate a membership of 1200 persons. The committee believes that it has come to a temporary stopping point in these investigations. It therefore submits this summary report with no immediate plans to expand upon it unless so directed or until it becomes clear that some parameter of the problem has changed or was improperly evaluated in the development of this report. The committee recognizes that, in order to follow any definite path to a conclusion, a number of implicit assumptions (biases) were unavoidably introduced.

It was assumed at the outset that the present sanctuary could not be enlarged in any acceptable way. Within that limitation (perhaps false) the committee considered four different paths:

  1. Sell the present church and start over.
  2. Build a new larger sanctuary next door, using present sanctuary for other purposes.
  3. Accept the limitation of the present sanctuary size and try to optimize the use of it.
  4. As the space situation becomes tight in either the sanctuary or the church school area, go to ever more services.

Briefly, the committee considered the first two alternatives to be both financially and, probably, psychologically unacceptable for the next few years and hence dismissed them. The fourth alternative need not require any significant capital investment, though it might require conversion of a classroom into office space then unusable for classes, thus making the “pinch” in the R.E. area come that much sooner. The committee feels, however, that it may be effectively impossible to schedule multiple services at such times that more than two or three of them would attract near-capacity attendance.

The third alternative, that of optimizing the use of the sanctuary, required more detailed examination. To optimize the use seems to require two things: the number of services consistent with capacity attendance in the sanctuary and the provision of other facilities to accommodate the activities and attendance in other areas associated with capacity attendance in sanctuary for that number of services. That is, the task is to provide a physical facility that is well balanced.

Two numbers now become very important: the average capacity of the sanctuary and the ratio of church-school attendance to sanctuary attendance. We have taken the desirable average capacity of the sanctuary to be 400 with a standard devia­tion of 90. (Actual experience in the 2nd service so far this year is 443 with a standard deviation of 90.) The ratio of R.E. attendance to “sanctuary” attendance held nearly steady at about 1 to 1 during the four years just prior to our coming into the new building, where it dropped to about 0.8 to 1. The change is probably due to an increase in the number of visitors, a phenomenon which we estimate is only partly temporary. Thus we are taking 0.9 to 1 as our best estimate for the next few years.

With these assumptions we see the following needs, the fulfillment of which would accommodate an average sanctuary attendance of 1200 persons in 3 services:

  1. Office space increased by 80 to 100%
  2. Assistant minister or professional office staff, plus pro rata increase in clerical and secretarial staff
  3. Additional Church School space to balance sanctuary capacity.

The office space can be provided in suitably blocked locations by, for example, converting the present board room to office use and providing a board room and an R.E. office in another location instead of their present locations. The additional professional and secretarial staff would be housed in this expanded office space. Their salaries represent no significant pertur­bation to our financial structure, as the need for and hiring of them would be geared to membership and thus to operating budget.

The additional R.E. and office space could be supplied in any of several ways:

  1. Rental of adjacent building space
  2. Provision of additional housing on our present property by means of
    1. “Portable” classrooms
    2. building of cottages
    3. additions to present building
    4. construction of a “Youth” building, probably at lower end of the parking lot.

At present, no adjacent building space is available. Portable classrooms seem unacceptable on both esthetic and fiscal grounds. Cottages would be esthetically acceptable but somewhat impractical because of the dispersion of usable space. Additions to the present building would raise objections on esthetic grounds, but might in fact be accomplished in an esthetically acceptable way. The same applies to a separate youth building.

In consideration of the “important numbers” mentioned above, and with the further “educated guess” that 15 pupils per classroom is a good working figure as an average over various classroom sizes and attendance figures, and recognizing that a Youth building needs its own assembly hall which could double as a worship room, gymnasium, etc., the following requirements were agreed on for either a Youth building or additions to the present building:

R. E. Office
Board room
6 classrooms
Assembly-worship-gym room (large, e.g. 40 x 80 ft)
Additional parking (9)
Full air-conditioning

All of this would run to a building floor area of from 8 to 1,000 sq ft (vs 22,000 now!). On the basis of estimated dollars/ft as lightly researched” by several of us, plus an allowance for special foundation and drainage problems, we think that the figures specially worked up by Roy Forehand are reasonable though perhaps a bit conservatively high which, in view of steadily rising costs, is quite proper. With our own extrapolation to the larger size Youth building and for air-conditioning these are:

For 6,400 sq ft in a Youth building…………………………………..$125,000
For 9,400 sq ftin additions to the present building ……………..190,000
For 9,600 sq ftYouth building…………………………………………….170,000

Evaluation of Youth building or additions idea:

For this $170,000 spent on the primary purpose of achieving a better balance, we gain only “nice-to-have-things” plus these basic expansions:

(1) 50 to 100 members more per service in sanctuary
(2) the additional office space

Thus, it appears to the committee that, at this moment, we have no really acceptable solution to the problem of accommodating 1200 in present location, though 900 to 1,000 could be comfortably accommodated in the present facility in three services carefully scheduled and programmed

In SUMMARY the main points reduce to the following: The sanctuary capacity cannot be expanded in any reasonable way. It could be used to maximum capacity by adding to the R.E. facilities (primarily), either by construction of a Youth building or by additions to the present building, at a cost well in excess of $100,000 and probably nearer $170,000. This large expenditure is considered ill-advised because it would only increase the use of the of sanctuary by 50 to 100 members per service. Thus it appears that expanding the R.E. facilities to achieve a balance which would permit accommodation of an average sanctuary attendance of 1200 in three services, is not desirable for reasons of accommodating growth alone. One reason is that if the present R.E. plant be taken as the limiting factor, an average attendance of 900 to 1,000 in the sanctuary can be accommodated in three services within the present facility at the probable cost, only, of converting the board room to office space. (A method of achieving balance which the committee has not considered is a reduction of the R.E. program, such as elimination of the upper three grade levels – a system presently used in the Plandome church, I am told.

Respectfully submitted,

R. A. Young, Chairman

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