The church on the corner of Main and Osprey is getting ready to open its new doors wide.
Now, those doors haven’t been installed yet. But by the end of October, that change and most of the major renovations should be finished at the Dundalk United Church.
Contractors’ vans have been parked outside the church all the while the congregation has been meeting online in services led by its minister, Rev. David Shearman of Owen Sound.
“Who knows what the future brings – times are changing,” said Steve Karsch last week. He’s the chair of trustees and project manager.
“We’re willing to make that change with the community and provide a facility.”
It all started about five years ago, with the desire to make the church accessible.
That initial desire has led to a 10-year vision of the building being a hub for the community – whether it is to rent space for an event, attend church with a walker or a child in a stroller or some use that hasn’t yet been suggested.
Like many projects in older buildings, there have been some surprises along the way, though perhaps not as dramatic as the work done a few years ago at the east side, where some structure needed to be replaced due to water damage.
The front section which was added in about 1960s is being renewed. The Savaria lift is being installed to the left, and will take people up a short distance to the sanctuary level or down to the meeting room. There will be an accessible washroom on that level as well.
Along with accessibility, Mr. Karsch said that changes will bring the building up to all current codes with fire-rated drywall and a new electrical panel and wiring.
Energy-saving measures include a switch from oil heat to high-efficiency natural gas furnaces and all-new windows at the lower level.
“We’ve had some very generous donations from congregation members,” Mr. Karsch said. Another source of funding for the lift has been from the former Erskine Presbyterian congregation.
After Rev. Janet Eriksen retired, the church sold the manse (minister’s residence), many churches have. That provided another source of funding.
Construction started in June, but the project has faced the same supply issues as others due to delays in deliveries.
Many local companies have played a role: B&M Construction doing the work outside the lift, Zeke Air for the furnaces, DV Electric, Set in Stone Landscaping (Brad and Tef Ferris) will do planting and stone work at the front door, where the entrance will have a level extension and then a ramp down to the Osprey Street side.
The lift, where the idea started, is a huge undertaking, Mr. Karsch said, joking that there was enough lumber in the framework for the lift to build a house. The support has to be strong to prevent any pull on the structure.
The lower level meeting room will have a new T-bar ceiling and LED lighting, and an easy-to-clean plank floor to replace carpet. New floor covering will be put down in the sanctuary as well. “The only carpet will be on the steps.”
A few years down the road, a final phase to the project is planned to make the front of the sanctuary level with the seating by eliminating the platform. That will open up the space for multi-purpose use.
“We want to welcome all residents of Southgate in here and offer it to the public to use.”
M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald