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Minutes of 1st Meeting Called by the Future Planning Committee

 Minutes of 1st Meeting Called by the Future Planning Committee

 For the Santa Fe Monthly Meeting

 

The meeting lasted from about 1 pm to 2:30 pm Sunday, June 22, 2008. Approximately 24 people attended including several members of the Future Planning Comm. Beverly Busching, Convener, introduced the need for the Meeting to discuss three concrete options in the process of discerning what direction the Meeting wishes to move with regard both to its future housing and full-filling its spiritual intentions. Beverly, Alison Martinez, Jonathan Cartland, and others spoke of how they each treasures the community of Friends, of their hope that the process of weighing the various options and coming to some decisions be carried out in the light without divisions in the group, and of their desire to seek a long-range unified plan for all of the Santa Fe Monthly Meeting.

 1) Gift of Land

 Beverly Busching outlined the recent proposed gift to the Meeting of 1 ½ acres of land at the corner of Camino Lejo and Old Pecos Trail. Appreciation was expressed for this generous gift. Numerous questions were raised including the following:

 
  • What do we know about the land? It is more centrally located than Canyon Road; it has beautiful views of the mountains; it is adjacent to the Baptist Church and near several other churches and community organizations, and is zoned appropriately.

  • Could the Meeting sell the land or is it only given for the purpose of building a meetinghouse? Some conditions of the gift are still unclear.

  • What do we know about the donor’s wishes? The intent of the donation is to provide better and more accessible space for Friends worship. The structure should be appropriate in style and quality to the neighborhood and be consistent with building criteria of the Historic District where the land is located. The land would be donated over several years, transferring a percentage of ownership to the Meeting each year to allow the donor to benefit from a tax deduction for the gift.

  • Why is there a time pressure for the Meeting to arrive at a decision on whether to accept this gift? The donor wishes to start the process this calendar year and thus would need some confirmation of the Meeting’s willingness to receive the land by early Fall.

  • What kind of property taxes would be involved? These would be divided somehow during the donation period and it is likely that the Meeting as a non-profit religious organization would not have to pay property taxes (we do not now pay taxes on our Canyon Road property).

  • What kind of costs might be anticipated for a new construction? This would depend on the size and design of the building. Bob Gaines, shared his experience from the Austin Meeting of several years ago where the projected cost of a new building rose from $600,000 to $1,200,000 by the end of the planning process. Austin Friends found it difficult to borrow money from a bank but were offered a loan up to $200,000 from the Friends Meetinghouse Fund. (In the end the Meeting did not build but bought another church property for its use.) Others discussed the desirability of a “green building” and noted that knowledgeable guidance is needed and available in our area and that the initial costs of green construction would probably be higher but the building would be energy efficient in the future.

  • How would the Meeting raise a large sum of construction money? A Friend suggested that an anonymous poll might be taken of the membership to determine what range of contributions or major bequests might be anticipated for the near future. The Live Oak Meeting in Houston was cited as an example of a new meeting house which included a unique artwork in its retractable roof and that the construction cost of about $1,500,000 was paid for through grants and solicitations from large local donors in return for public access to the space for viewing the artwork.

  • What alternatives may exist for funding construction? Several Friends were drawn to the idea of a collaborative use of the new land that might involve partnering with other organizations or providing facilities and activities that meet needs of the larger community. Such an approach might allow us to raise money from a larger community base. A local Quaker foundation, the Stokes Foundation, might give support.

  • What ethical concerns should we be keeping in mind when considering the acceptance of such a land gift and the financing of a new construction?

 

Concerns, Other Options, and Proposed Actions:

 

  • It was suggested that the Future Planning Committee develop a memorandum of understanding with the donor laying out all stipulations or conditions of the gift of land. Because of the importance of such a commitment and the limited time now available for consideration of it, several Friends urged looking into the possibility of whether the timing for a decision could be extended.

  • Would it be wiser and more affordable to purchase an existing building (perhaps another church like the Unitarians who plan to move) rather than face the costs and time involved in building? We should explore what other properties in Santa Fe, such as the Unitarian Church, may be available for purchase.

  • We should seek guidance and consultation from other Meetings which are facing similar concerns about inadequate meeting spaces and also those Meetings which have gone through the often painful decision making of buying or building a new facility (Flagstaff, Albuquerque, elsewhere?).

 

2) South Santa Fe Worship Group’s Building Fund

 

Alison Martinez of the South Santa Fe Worship Group outlined their current thoughts of purchasing a commercial building near Cerrillos Road for use as a Meetinghouse with funds received as a donation (approx. $250,000). She provided floor plans for the 1300 sq. ft. facility in the Maclovia Condominiums on Luana Street, Santa Fe, which includes a worship space, an office, two rooms for Young Friends, a kitchen and a bathroom.

The funds being held by the South Santa Fe Friends Worship Group could cover purchase of the space (ca. $14/sq. ft.) and 4 to 5 years of maintenance and utilities and thus would not impact the general Meeting’s budget. While the South Side group is responding to their own sense of urgency to provide a more accessible and more appropriate meeting space, they also seek to provide a space for Quaker energy to generate new programs and involve more people from the larger community and could foresee the new space accommodating many members of the larger Santa Fe Monthly Meeting if that were desired. The following questions and concerns were raised:

Why does the South Santa Fe Group want to buy and not rent? The Group sees this as an interim solution to their needs. After some thought, they feel it may be a better investment to purchase a property even if it were to be owned for only several years until a new, more ideal facility were built or bought. They are continuing to weigh these alternatives.
  • What is known about the proposed site in Maclovia Condominiums? The facilities, which are 15 years old, are simple and “adequate” with forced air heating and cooling. The worship space may be not much larger than that at Canyon Road but perhaps less L-shaped. The two rooms for First Day School have windows onto the worship space. The building is surrounded by pleasant trees, walkways, and other plantings that are maintained by the homeowners association.

  • Who are the other 3 neighbors who share the building? One neighbor is the office of a State agency, one belongs to “All Care” (a physical therapy center) and the other is vacant. All the surrounding facilities would probably not be in use on Sundays and the generous parking lot could be used by Friends.

  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of obtaining a new interim South side facility versus continuing to meet in the Canyon Road facility, with its flaws, while saving the South Santa Fe’s property funds for eventual use toward an ideal new building? Alison feels that an alternative to the access and parking problems at Canyon Road is needed immediately. She feels that staying in the old building will result in the entire process bogging down while a new space will “free up energy” of Friends to move forward.

  • How close is the Group to a decision to buy? Fairly close but they want Friends to view the property and give feedback about it. They would reconsider if there was strong feeling against it. Some negotiations are needed regarding the finishing the proposed kitchen space and the division of two adjacent rooms to be split with a neighbor condo. According to Alison, they are moving fast and it is not an option to freeze the use of their funds for a year or so.

  • Is the South Santa Fe Group’s intention to reunify with the main Meeting Group and would the Group be willing to donate funds obtained from selling its proposed purchase property for the construction of a large new meetinghouse. Yes!

 

Concerns, other options, and proposed actions:

 

  • Alison will notify Friends of a time and date when they can go to the Maclovia Condominiums and view the interior of the proposed site.

  • The size of the worship space and other rooms needs to be determined. If the overall space is felt to be too small, look into the possibility of adding some of the adjacent condominium space that was to be divided.

 

3) Establishing a Linked Foundation for Santa Fe Meeting

 

Dave Giltrow outlined what a linked foundation is and how it might be useful for separating responsibilities for maintaining, preserving and conserving the historic buildings and gardens at 630 Canyon Rd. from the other spiritual and financial focuses of the Meeting. He circulated a few copies of his 6-page discussion paper and will soon make available a one-page summary of the concept.

 

The Meeting would establish a non-profit 501 C-3 foundation such as the “Friends of the Olive Rush Studio”. The Monthly Meeting would control this foundation and select perhaps 5-10 trustees including some non-Quaker members from the Santa Fe community who have an interest in the preservation and perpetuation of Olive Rush’s legacy. The Foundation would take the responsibility off of the Meeting for many immediate decisions regarding management, use and funding of the property and would direct much of its attention to raising funds through grants, use charges, and other means to help cover the costs for on-going up-keep of the property as well as for larger preservation projects needed by the buildings but not now covered by income generated by the Meeting. The following questions were raised:

  • Could the Meeting keep the Olive Rush Studio and also have a new meetinghouse? The general response was “yes”.

  • What approximately are the costs in money and time expended by the current Garden and Building Committees? Dave Giltrow estimated an average of 15-20 hours a month for Building Comm. activities. The Garden Comm.’s work is more seasonal and has been significant this past year.

  • Would a foundation eliminate the need for volunteer workers at 630 Canyon Road. “No”, Dave Giltrow responded and encouraged such volunteerism as part of the Stewardship of the property.

 

Concerns, Other Options, and Proposed Actions

 

  • Try to come up with a realistic estimate of volunteer hours spent on building and garden management and maintenance and an estimate of costs for care and preservation for land and buildings over next 5 years..

  • Look into the costs of starting a Foundation.

  • Concern was expressed about what may be manageable for the Meeting to sustain one “entailed” piece of property, may become a burden to sustain two or even three “entailed” properties.

 

General Concluding Comments

 

  • Jeanne Malcomb saw the new options as offering an opportunity to take in more members of the broader community and to better meet needs of the existing Meeting and felt we should take advantage of this opportunity.

  • Rebecca Henderson was impressed with the creativity she heard coming out of the work of the Committee and the discussions today.

  • Jan Willem Jansens felt it was important to continue to consider the exciting possibilities of all 3 options and their synergy or the way they may interact on each other to bring about even better results.

  • The need was seen for the Future Planning Committee, with input from the broader group, to formulate concrete proposals of the options we are considering with all the pros and cons spelled out so that we know what we are deciding.

  • Beverly Busching and Jonathan Cartland emphasized the complexity of decisions and the need to maintain unity during this process of creating something new. We all hope that Friends will give the time and energy needed to move toward decisions on the options before us.

 

Prepared by Bettina Raphael 6/24/08

 

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