Marsha A. Stoltz
NorthJersey.com USA TODAY NETWORK – NEW JERSEY
FRANKLIN LAKES — Two years after arson destroyed the sanctuary at Most Blessed Sacrament Church, congregants say they are ready to seek a construction company for their borough-approved rebuilding plan.
The borough’s Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the church’s construction plan on Dec. 2, said the Rev. John Job, the pastor.
“Although this was a significant step, we still have much to do,” Job said in a letter to congregation members. “Our main short-term objectives include an insurance settlement, selection of a builder and the continuation of our fundraising efforts.”
Officials of the 2,000-family congregation estimated the cost of a new larger sanctuary at $16.5 million in March, when they unveiled architectural plans. However, it is unclear what impact inflation and COVID-related supply and worker shortages will have on that estimate.
The church was poised for a $2.6 million renovation/expansion when thesanctuary burned to the ground on Dec. 11, 2019. Those funds and subsequent donations of $400,000 have been set aside for the rebuilding. However, church officials estimate the insurance reimbursement at $9.5 million, leaving the congregation at least $1 million short.
“It is expected that our insurance proceeds, plus our funds on hand, will not be enough to cover the full cost of the rebuild,” Job said in a December 2020 letter to the congregation. “Hence, we will need to begin an additional capital campaign to bridge the gap.”
Reports on the church’s website indicate that its rebuilding committee has not been discouraged by the assessment. It agreed to expand the proposed kitchen and storage space of the plan in July, and so far has made no recommendations to reduce or eliminate any part of the plan to modify its cost.
At least two subcommittees have been created to address specific needs. A Liturgical Art subcommittee is assessing the new building’s artistic needs — stained glass, sculptures, liturgical furnishings — and the artists who will provide them.
An Organ Selection subcommittee has met with the Peragallo Co. in Paterson, which supplied the church’s 1980 organ, to outline the musical needs in the new church.
The proposed sanctuary is about a third larger than the previous structure. Variances approved by the zoning board for the project include:
- Building height proposed at 44 feet; 40 feet required.
- Setbacks proposed 80 feet from High Mountain Road and 118 feet from Franklin Lake Road; 150 feet required.
- Steeple proposed 46 feet above building; 15-foot maximum required.
- Driveway proposed 20 feet wide; 24-foot width required.
- Parking stalls proposed 9 feet by 18 feet; 10-footby- 20-foot stalls required.
Foresight Architects is the Liturgical Design Consultant for this project. Architectural design is by LAN Associates.