The Ripley Chapel Working Group has been working steadily since October to carefully study the choices for the renovation of our Chapel and the costs associated with each. The costs estimates were developed by Kaplan Construction company last spring under the direction of our architect, David Torrey. It has been fairly easy to review the decision of the congregation from the 2017 Annual Meeting and then look at the very high cost designs and cross them out. And we have been able to choose the base elements that are “must do” items (such as bringing the space up to code and to make sure we provide accessibility for all). There are a number of items that we are still prioritizing – essentially performing a cost-benefit analysis on each item and looking at different combinations. We seek to do those things that will ensure a transformed space while sticking within the budget. Decisions on windows are especially challenging. There has been a strong desire voiced by members of the congregation to maximize windows that will admit natural light, but it is clear that making changes to one or more stained glass windows is particularly costly. We are looking to see if adding new windows while leaving the stained glass windows in place will achieve what we are seeking within our budget. We are also examining the trade off of having air conditioning versus a few more valued features. Our next step is to reengage with our architect and gain some clarification on certain combinations of features. We will also ask his help to scrutinize last spring’s cost estimates and see where we can squeeze out some savings in order to do more of what we hope to do. We are striving to bring our final recommendations to the congregation in a series of hearings. When we are ready, this will require a final vote of the congregation to proceed to get construction ready drawings completed. Then we will proceed to secure a contractor and plan for the work to begin. We strive to start by mid-2018.