News About the Renovation-Expansion Project

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Here’s a letter from Pastor Godsoe on the renovation-expansion project.

Dear Willowdale Church Family,

During this unusual time of social distancing and pandemic effect mitigation, we are reminded that as a church we are not dependent on a building to continue to worship and function. Nevertheless, it perhaps becomes even more evident through this process how useful and enjoyable it is to have a building that can facilitate our worship, study, outreach and fellowship.

On the topic of our building, I need to provide an important update on our long-standing renovation-expansion project. This project has been ongoing for approximately 19 years, and our investment in it to date is definitely in excess of $400,000, but more likely approximately $500,000. As you may recall, through that process we have twice worked through the arduous and expensive process of zoning approval with the city, and last summer finally secured our building permit. We have at least twice paid for a costing analysis for the project.

Let me provide a point-form summary of what has happened in these recent months:

– The project was finally officially put to tender on January 22, 2020, as was reported at our annual church business meeting.

– While six pre-qualified contractors were invited to bid on the project, in the end only three of the contractors submitted a bid.

– On February 19 the bids were opened and they were significantly higher than expected. The lowest bid represented a price increase of over 45% from our last costing done in June 2014, five and a half years earlier. To put that in dollar terms, the lowest bid represented a price increase of $1,142,900.

– With initial work from the Finance Committee, the Church Board had determined before the bids were received at its February 11 meeting that our pre-tax voted capacity for this project (taking into consideration expenditures which would be outstanding such as the completion of the 3-phase electrical upgrade) was $2,886,281.

– The lowest pre-tax bid combined with the projected cost for the electrical upgrade totaled $3,669,900, leaving a shortfall from our determined capacity of $783,619.

– The Building & Property Management Committee met to look at possible adjustments to the project which could provide some savings on the cost.

– The Church Board held an extra meeting on February 25 to address the bids. The Board voted to ask the lowest bidder what could be done for a pre-tax price of $2,950,00 – with a willingness to negotiate up to a maximum pre-tax price of $3,150,000 if necessary. It was determined that this was the absolute maximum amount the church could feasibly manage. The Board members also scheduled a day of fasting and prayer specific to this request and the project as a whole.

– In essence, we were looking for a miracle, asking the lowest bidder to find over 17% in price reduction by cutting the cost of their bid by $619,900.

– The architects and the lowest bidder agreed to review the project and determine what adjustments to cut costs could be made.

– At the March 10 Church Board meeting, the review by the lowest bidder had not yet been completed, and another day of prayer and fasting was scheduled.

– By April 9 we received the final computations back from the low bidder and the architects. The total reduction in price calculated was $192,424 – and that involved removing some significant components from the project.

– At the April 14 meeting of the Church Board, the Board was faced with the reality that the revised bid was still $227,476 more than our voted maximum upper limit for this project, and even at that amount, many features of the project would be left undone. On top of that, the tender bid validity period would be expiring on April 19, at which point the contractor was no longer bound to honor the bid. As well, our building permit was now past the time when construction was supposed to have started.

– Given all these realities and the uncertainty (economic and otherwise) surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Church Board voted to respond to the architects and lowest bidder that we are not able to accept the bid and proceed with the project. The reality is that our savings for this project have not kept pace with the rate in which the costs increased.

I am very well aware that there will be different feelings among our church members regarding this news. Some members will feel a long-awaited sense of satisfaction to finally see the demise of this project. Others will feel disappointed to see this anticipated and welcomed project come to an end. At the end of the day, we still have a building that is almost 63 years old, and it is definitely showing its age. Many of our electric furnaces need to be replaced, a majority of our thermostats no longer work and need to be replaced, much of our door hardware is well past its reasonable time of functioning and needs to replaced, we have several doors and window components which need to be replaced, and you may have noticed how worn some of our carpets is. And we’re still mostly maxed out on our electrical supply capacity. So there is plenty to do in regard to keeping our building in a suitable state for proper functioning.

I have listened to several people in the last few weeks express how much they miss being able to gather with their church family in this building. Maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder! Let’s continue to appreciate the building we have – and the dedication, sacrifice, and foresight of all those who through the decades have provided this facility in its three main versions. We will need to keep it functional so that it can remain a place in which we can meet, plan, pray, worship, fellowship, welcome, serve and reach out to the community around us. Most of all, may it remain a useful tool in our calling as a congregation to help extend God’s kingdom.

Looking forward to when this building will be filled with people and activity again,

Darren R. Godsoe

Head Pastor

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