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Minutes of 2nd Meeting Called by the Future Planning Committee

Minutes of 2nd Meeting Called by the Future Planning Committee
For the Santa Fe Monthly Meeting

The meeting on Sunday, June 29, 2008, lasted from about 10 am to 10:55 am.  Approximately 19 people attended including several members of the Future Planning Comm.  Martha Davis served as Convener, following an introduction by Dave Giltrow.   Dave reviewed the purpose and activities of the Future (previously called Long-Range) Planning Committee and the Meeting’s longer history of discussions about inadequacies of the Canyon Road facilities and alternative proposals.  The discussion today was fairly unstructured and followed participant’s comments on three basic topics.
1) Gift of Land
More information on the land being offered was requested.  It is adjacent to Guthrie Miller’s home, situated to the south and bordered primarily by Camino Lejo.  It is zoned residential like the surrounding large lots and has been already subdivided as a separate lot.  It is in a beautiful location in a very nice neighborhood.

Is it likely that there would be opposition from neighbors to building a Meetinghouse here?  Several people felt the past history of the neighborhood involved resisting other projects and could lead to problems and delays through appeals to City Hall and litigation in court.  In response, one Friend spoke to the tradition of Quakers to reach out to people in the community and hoped that if the property were accepted, early efforts would be made to meet with the neighbors.  Someone else who lives in the neighborhood agreed that such outreach would be necessary and good.   It was suggested that for such outreach, it would be helpful to have clear drawings of the property to share.
Additional conditions or factors related to the gift:  the donor is offering the land as a building site for a meetinghouse and not as an asset that could be sold.  Since one of the conditions is that the property would be in “joint tenancy” and turned over to the Meeting in a multi-year transfer, and because time would be needed to raise construction funds, it would take perhaps 5 to 7 years before ground would be broken.  The donor has consulted lawyers and believes this is the best scenario so far.  It was suggested that the details of a written agreement between the Meeting and the donor be worked out by the Future Planning Committee in the near future.
What is the urgency of coming to a commitment on the land?  In order for the transfer to begin by the end of this year, as the donor hopes, an agreement would have to be arrived at by September or October at the latest.  There was a comment that the time constraints and pressures are not in the “Quakerly” tradition.

2)  Status of Olive Rush Property on Canyon Road
A fairly new member of the Meeting asked for information on the current status of the Canyon Road property and whether it could be sold:  the answer is that we still do not know for certain.  According to one legal opinion in the 1980s,  the property was donated through Olive’s Will to the Meeting making it now the legal owner.  However, Olive’s earlier but less official “Agreement” with the Meeting spoke of the property being passed on to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation if the Meeting no longer wished to use it.  The Future Planning Committee intends to seek a second legal opinion and would probably have to file a Quit Claim to eliminate the Foundation’s claim to the property.

It was observed that beyond these legal issues is the need to weigh the moral obligation the Meeting may have to Olive Rush to hold on to and maintain the land and buildings.  In this regard, one Friend felt that the key issue in resolving questions on the status of the property is to consider “What was Olive’s intent in donating it to Meeting?”  Was it to insure that the buildings and garden would be preserved “as is”?  Was it to provide a home for the Meeting that would allow it to have continuity and grow?  Could she have foreseen the size and needs of the Meeting today?

A long-time member of the Meeting noted that this was at least the third time in the last 30 years that concerns about the future of the Canyon Road property were being discussed.  Because of the energy and emotions around Canyon Road, it needed to be held in the Light separately.  He felt it would be helpful if decisions about the disposition of the current meetinghouse could be separated from discussions of the newer options and proposals.
In contrast, another member saw all the issues and options as part of a whole.  She asked: “How can we be a viable Meeting that serves the needs of its youth and young adults and that draws in enough active members to generate energy and support for the projects we believe in?”  She felt that to do this we need to take advantage of the new options being presented to us and that to stay in the current building was to stagnate.  To her disappointment, the Meeting over the last 20 years had been unable to provide adequate teaching of Quakerism for Young Friends.  In her opinion, the Meeting now needed to move in a timely fashion, but move.

Another Friend spoke of her decision to distance herself from the Santa Fe Meeting because she felt the group “clings” to the building.   She spoke of her experience with the Houston Meeting when they went through the 4-5 year process of planning to build a new meetinghouse.  Once committed, they were able to work through differences and raise considerable funding to construct a simple but artistic facility with a separate building for their young people.  It was suggested that we find out more about what the status of the Houston Meeting is now and what has been the impact of the new facility.

3) South Santa Fe Worship Group’s Building Fund
An attempt was made to focus attention on the South Santa Fe Worship Group’s desire to receive the Meeting’s in-put on their proposal to rent either one or two condominium units on Luana/Maclovia Street.  Per Alison Martinez’s email this week, the South Side Group wishes to move quickly to rent a facility and wants feed back from Friends after the site visit to the property earlier this week.
One Friend felt some uncomfortable pressure to come to consensus and to move as a result of the email, but understood better the urgency expressed by other Friends in this discussion to develop a more useable space for First Day groups and other activities.  Nevertheless, she felt concern about the disruption of moving, especially two separate moves to an interim facility and eventually to a built meetinghouse, which might be especially hard on an un-programmed meeting.
People who visited the proposed site in Maclovia Condominiums described their observations.  Some Friends thought the office building was a simple and pleasant facility but had little “charm”.  The outdoor space is limited and best accessible from the back unit.  It was clear to most that the single unit of 1300 sq. ft. originally proposed would be too small to create a worship space larger than that at Canyon Road.  Two units totaling 2600 sq. feet would offer plenty of space if several non-bearing walls were taken down to create a larger worship room, leaving several medium to small rooms for youth groups, offices, and meeting rooms.  Apparently the current owner would make the alterations required.  The facility would share a common wall along its length with the two condo units on the opposite side.

Coincidentally, Howard Shulman realized that his employer, New Mexico Commission on Aging, will be moving into the other half of the building later this summer.  He noted that the offices would be used only from 7 am to 5 pm primarily on week days.  In his experience, the building’s owner is flexible and amenable to making adjustments.  He recommended that it would be wiser for the South Santa Fe Group to rent the facility since one didn’t know who one’s neighbors in the building will be in the future.

One Friend expressed the feelings of many in the group in speaking of her deep appreciation for the generosity of both the offers before the Santa Fe Meeting and her gratitude for these proposals bringing to the forefront possibilities for new directions for the community.

Prepared by Bettina Raphael  7/2/08

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