It has now been just over six months that I have served on the Vestry here at Advent, and I have been kept busy with the role of Chair of Buildings and Grounds. Any way you look at it the Advent Campus is the core to our church family, providing space for us to worship, study, teach, provide entertainment together and outreach to the community at large. We are blest to have such an impressive set of buildings in an attractive lot at the gateway to Kennett Square.
The Advent Campus is a fairly big one and to provide a little history the main Sanctuary building was built in 1956, so is 62 years old. I am very sympathetic with this as at 65 years old I am now beginning to yet the aches and pains that accompany aging, so I know what to expect with the Sanctuary building as it develops its own system of aches and pains. The North Wing was built in 1990 as was the Chapel extension to the West side of the Sanctuary, so these wings are now 28 years old, and will be experiencing its own form of growing pains. Finally the South Wing was added in 2004 and is a relatively young 14 years old, but as many youngsters experience subject to accidents that can cause pain and suffering.
Some of you may have noticed that there are several problems developing that will need to be rectified in due course. Some, such as the car park are very noticeable with cracking and alligatoring occurring in the lower car park adjacent to the North and South Wings. Other issues such as cracking and possible water inclusion are found at the back wall of the Church facing the Union Cemetery and therefore mainly un-noticed. The Sanctuary roof is a very stunning slate roof, but if you take a close look you will see that the slates are beginning to delaminate and some have been replaced. As we move forward these and several other components of the Advent Campus will require more and more attention and almost certainly a total replacement at some point.
Typically building owners develop a Capital Reserve program over time to allow for these sort of events to be funded and repaired/replaced as the building and plant age. Unfortunately, the capital reserve fund at Advent has for several reasons fallen behind the expected cost for such repairs and replacements. As prudent managers of the Advent Campus the Vestry now needs to determine what the appropriate Capital Reserve fund should be, and find ways to build it up as quickly as possible.
Clearly we need to ensure that the Advent Campus remains in good order and will be there in good working order for the next several generations of the congregation. Therefore, we recently hired Bustamante Engineers, Inc. to undertake a Property Condition Assessment and determine the expected cost of maintaining the Advent Campus in a good state of repair over the next 15 year period. This work is currently underway and the results will be presented to the congregation at completion of the process.
Other items that are included in the study are what needs to be done to upgrade the efficiency of the Advent Campus. For instance the windows in the Sanctuary were the best design available 62 years ago, but are now not as energy efficient as new designs and cost the operational budget in increased electric and fuel oil charges. New windows over time would pay for themselves with improved energy efficiencies. The heating is currently provided by heat pumps using electric power, and on colder days is supplemented by oil fired boilers in the Sanctuary, and daily during the winter in the pre-school area of
the North Wing. Installing a pipeline access to the natural gas supply and converting from electric and oil heating would save significant operational costs over time. Additionally, changing the kitchen from propane to natural gas would also lead to operational savings over time.
As I said at the opening, the Advent Campus is the core to our church family. We have a responsibility to ensure it is kept in good condition to provide shelter to our church community to worship together for generations to come.