Keep an eye on the progress of our courtyard renovation.

Courtyard Update 6/7/18

by Eric Baucom

IMG 6365Over the past few weeks you may have noticed a lot things happening in the courtyard! Despite some rain our contractor has been able to make good progress. Things are going smoothly and (mostly) according to plan. Here are some highlights:

  • The overall timeline has slipped a bit. We had originally hoped to be finished by early June, but weather held things up during the spring months. With recent good progress, things are getting back on track and the project will definitely be completed this summer!
  • The columbarium was installed early in the project, followed by some brick planter walls. Now the stone work is catching up, and pavers are moving ahead quickly!
  • The play structure is mostly up, and should be completed soon. The area around the play structure will get a rubberized soft-surface material for the little ones. (Most Sundays the kids ask me if they can go play out there… it won’t be long!)
  • Some of the less-visible systems being installed include landscape lighting and irrigation systems. And don’t forget the small waterfall feature near the columbarium!
  • Many folks have asked about the cedar posts. They are intended to support a triangular “shade sail”, a colorful (blue) piece of synthetic fabric that covers the play area and provides shade. Using cedar posts was a fun and interesting design element, meant to bring some more natural elements into our outdoor space. However, we’ve run into a snag with city inspectors who are used to seeing a more engineered approach (i.e. steel posts). Obviously our goal is to provide a sturdy and safe installation. We’ve been working with our contractor to come up with a solution that will satisfy the inspectors and give us a good final product. Efforts to resolve this are still underway, and until we figure out a final solution it will be hard to determine an exact completion date for the project. The committee will be tracking this closely until a final solution is in place!
  • The work is not limited to just the courtyard! The memorial garden is also being renovated with new plantings and a new walking path. Also, you may have noticed a new wall at the corner of Vanderbilt and Horne, which is replacing our triangular sign. We will have a new lettering installed on this wall in the coming weeks. It will be lit up at night, and a new cherry tree will be planted behind the wall to replace the memorial tree that had to be taken down. The renovation work will also extend around to the Vanderbilt side of the church, where there will be many new plantings along that side of the sanctuary.
  • We have been blessed with a good contractor. Robert is responsive, pro-active, and conscientious. His focus has been on doing things well instead of quickly, which is exactly what we want. He and his team have really helped this project run smoothly, and we are very grateful.
  • Last but not least, we are grateful to our fellow church members for their patience and support throughout this project. Construction is often a fluid and dynamic endeavor. The visible progress can seem painfully slow at times, yet joyfully exciting at others. Thanks to everyone for their continued good will and uplifting spirits as we work to bring this project to a successful end!

Courtyard Renovation

One year ago at the annual Stewardship Luncheon, the congregation reaffirmed our commitment to the courtyard restoration project. During the summer of 2016, 118 members and friends of West Raleigh met in 15 small groups to envision how best to steward several sizeable bequests. Out of those conversations grew the momentum and the commitment to a project that included a complete renovation of the courtyard, a columbarium, restoration of the stained glass windows’ protective coverings, new signage and lighting. Since last fall members of the Courtyard Task Force, Frances Wilder (chair), Eric Baucom, Austin Jones, Shanora Kingsberry, & Bill Smith have been working toward that goal.

They spent the first part of the year receiving input from the congregation and honing the drawings; they researched columbarium and signage companies. They released the courtyard project to bid twice, receiving five good bids and interviewed two constructions firms. After countless meetings and hours of discussion, they made their recommendations to the session at a called meeting last week. The session, acting in their capacity as trustees, unanimously elected to move forward on the project. It is likely that demolition will start as early as November 6th! Construction will last 3-4 months once we break ground. Friends, it is really happening!

Members of the Courtyard Task Force are working with Craig Bromby now to finalize the paperwork to reserve space in the columbarium and the scatter garden. The Building & Grounds Committee, Bagged Lunch Ministry and WRPS Staff are making plans to access the church through the entrances off of Vanderbilt and Horne Street once construction begins. Friends, after years of planning and perseverance, this is finally happening!

In order to mark this moment, we planned a groundbreaking for Sunday, November 5th at 10:30am! The choir prepared special music to mark All Saints in worship that day, and the Stewardship Committee hosted lunch following worship. This is a good moment in the life of West Raleigh Presbyterian Church! Thank you to everyone whose commitment and hard work has brought us to this place – especially members of the Courtyard Task Force who have been working on this project for three years now! And thanks be to God for West Raleigh’s call to be salt and light at the corner of Vanderbilt, Hillsborough and Horne.

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