St. Luke’s seeking state grant | News, Sports, Jobs

Structural engineers are pictured in May 2021 gazing at the steeple of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Specialists used a form of radar to examine the tower as part of preservation efforts. PJ File Pictures

City council members are prepared to support a request for a state grant from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

A late addition to the council agenda this week was St. Luke’s application for a state Title 9 grant to assist with the church porch stabilization project. The city’s supporting resolution is required for the church to apply for the state money.

“He just sent this to Jen and copied me on Friday. It’s because he was on sabbatical. It was at the last minute, trying not to let it slip through the cracks,” said Crystal Surdyk, the city’s director of development. “It’s basically an extension of the project they started a few years ago and they’ve just seen further deterioration of the structure, so they have to apply for additional funds. It is really a formality for the grant application. It must have a resolution supporting the project.

A preservation plan and technical study in 2018 concluded that the church porch was moving away from the building. The front staircase is probably no longer level due to the western retaining wall bulging outward.

According to a May church newsletter posted online, St. Luke’s officials plan to issue a request for proposals for the project and begin construction sometime in 2023. Once a contractor has been found, the church will spend the rest of 2022 obtaining the materials, planning the logistics of the project, and how to complete the project while maintaining church services.

The project is expected to cost about $1.6 million, according to the church bulletin. The church has invested $850,000 in the project, which includes a previous state grant of $500,000, and the church is expected to sign an $800,000 10-year loan with Five Star Bank to pay part of the project. Repaying the loan will require allocating the church’s entire capital improvement budget for the next 10 years, and even that leaves a gap of about $30,000.

“So this fall, during our annual giving drive, we will be asking the congregation to consider whether they might be willing to make an additional pledge to the tower fund,” indicates the newsletter.

St. Luke’s, built in 1894 of rock-faced Medina sandstone that blends late Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival elements, is located in the downtown historic district of Jamestown; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The church was designed by Boston architect WP Wentworth. Over the years, the tower has suffered exterior and interior deterioration which may have led to water infiltration inside the church.

City council members discussed the grant during Monday’s business session. None of the board members objected, but several wanted more information about the church’s needs as it embarks on the $1.6 million project.

“I will contact Pastor Luke (Fodor) and ask for a bit of an explanation,” said Kim Ecklund, chair of the R-At Large and finance committee. “For those of us who have been here before, Crystal and I mentioned during finance that they applied for a Title 9 grant years ago to restore the tower. They felt there was even more damage, so it’s related to that. It’s the stairs that go up, but we’re going to ask him for clarification.

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