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June 5, 2024 – Progress

Great news. Our building plans have cleared the zoning departments. We are now waiting for the Building Dept. to issue our construction permit.

May 22, 2024 – Some Progress on Multiple Fronts

There isn’t much tangible news since last week. The Sanctuary heating project is about one work day short of completion. We’re waiting to receive one short length of baseboard and several thermostats. Our permit applications continue to move through City Hall, and we are working on our approach to the Historical Commission about the canopies over the Social Hall emergency exits. We’re also working on improvements to the Temple kitchen, A/V system and roof.

Our team met at the Temple this week with our architect and general contractor, and discussed some aspects of the project that can be undertaken even before the permits are issued. For instance, in the next few weeks, you may notice wooden sheds over the emergency exits and stairways to ensure that no water gets in during construction, even if we have another hurricane. It is unfortunate that we need these. They are a temporary fix to the problem for which the canopies are the best permanent solution.

Finally, we’re grateful to have some energetic end experienced new volunteers who are helping us increase the momentum of this project.

 

May 15, 2024 – Boiler Conversion Almost Done/Other Progress

The Sanctuary heating project is nearly complete. Next week, the thermostats should be installed, and the final little piece of baseboard is expected to arrive so it can be installed in the balcony. Then we’ll be done. Just about everything in this picture is new, except for the main body of the boiler. That big exhaust vent used to be covered with asbestos.

Meanwhile, the architectural and engineering drawings for the Social Hall renovation are making their way through the City departments. The Historic Preservation Commission, which previously approved copies, has signed off on the official drawings. Now they are to be submitted to Zoning, who have 10 days to respond, and finally to the building Department, who have 20 days to respond. We’re hoping to have our permits by the end of June.

At the same time, we’re finalizing the contract with our contractor, based on the latest plans, so everything will be in place when the permits come.

We are still developing the plan to obtain Historic approval of the canopies that we need to keep rainwater out of the emergency exits, but that won’t impact the main construction project. And we’re working on separate projects for the roof, kitchen and A/V system.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but “We’re Getting There”!

May 8, 2024 – Boiler Conversion in Progress

The boiler conversion from steam to hot water is in progress, and should be completed this week. We’re waiting for one small section of baseboard for the balcony. Once that’s in place, the new sanctuary heating system will be complete!

Meanwhile, the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission has approved the Social Hall work and are expected to sign off on the complete set of architectural and engineering drawings this week. With that in hand, we go to the Zoning Board, who are expected to sign off quickly, and then to the Jersey City Building Department, who will issue the construction permits. In only a few weeks, we will start construction!

We’re still planning our next visit to the HPC for approval of the canopies to keep the rain out of the below-grade emergency exit areas. At the same time, we are talking to contractors about the kitchen, AV system and roof, which are separate from the main construction project. A lot is going on!

 

May 1, 2024 – Baseboard Work Completion / Next Steps

The baseboard work is done and new thermostats have been installed for our new 4-zone Sanctuary heating system. We’re waiting to receive the last few pieces of equipment that are needed to convert the boiler from steam to hot water. Another week or two, and this project will be done.

Meanwhile, a large batch of original documents will be presented this week for final signature by the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission so that the other city agencies can sign off and issue construction permits. Then we will finally start building! We’re still strategizing about the canopies over the emergency exits but permits should be issued soon for everything else.

Finally, we are starting to finalize plans for the roof repairs, new A/V system, kitchen and the finishes for the Social Hall (flooring, lighting, etc.). Small task forces are working on each of these topics. If you would like to help, please contact Office Administrator Bob Kahan (admin@betheljc.org) and he’ll put you in touch with the appropriate people.

April 24, 2024 – Heating System Work Close to Completion

In the past week, the heating system work was completed in the balconies and on the south side of the Sanctuary. Work proceeds on the north side.

 

 

April 17, 2024 – Even More Heating System Progress

Over the past week, our crew completed the baseboard installation in the south balcony and has nearly completed the north balcony. They have also started to move all the radiators on the main floor of the sanctuary as they prepare to install the baseboards there.

April 10, 2024 – More Heating System Progress

Here are before and after shots of one of the Temple balconies, showing the old radiators and the new, modern baseboards.  Installation proceeds this week, to be followed by the installation of the equipment that will convert our big gas-fired steam boiler to hot water.  The new system should be fully functional in 2-3 weeks.  The installation was delayed but now we don’t have to worry about cold weather while the heat is off.

 

Those old radiators are heavy!

 

 

March 27, 2024 – Progress with the Historic Preservation Commission

Preparation for the new Sanctuary-level heating system continues as we wait for needed equipment to arrive. We think it will be installed during the week of April 8.

On March 26, we received Historic Preservation Commission approval to build a 6’ high fence around the below-grade emergency exit on the Harrison Ave. side of the Temple, but not on the Bentley Ave. (yard) side. We will have a new 6’ fence all around the yard so the Commissioners felt we would be adequately protected.

With only 7 of the 9 Commissioners in attendance, we didn’t have the 5 votes we needed to approve the canopies we need to build over these areas, so we will return again, armed with even more information from our engineers. Numerous members of our Congregation, including some kids (!) and a neighbor, testified powerfully before the Commission and we hope that even more people will come out next time. We’ll let you know as soon as the date is set.

March 20, 2024 – Upcoming Jersey City Historical Preservation Commission Mtg. / More Progress on the Heating System

Your Facilities Committee, along with our team of architects, engineers, lawyers and consultants, will meet again with the Jersey City Historical Preservation Commission on March 26 to request their approval of the canopies that are intended to keep rain out of the Social Hall emergency exits.  We will also asks them to approve the new fencing we want to install around those areas.  Write Tom Rosensweet at tom@betheljc.org if you’d like to make a statement at the hearing.

Meanwhile, we are very close to having all the engineering drawings that are needed to support the Social Hall construction permit applications.

Finally, the heating system upgrade continues as does the work to upgrade the drainage system outside the emergency exits.

 

March 6, 2024 – Heating System Improvements (continued)

Photos of the new copper tubing in the boiler room and on the way upstairs.

 

February 28, 2024 – Heating System Improvements Continue

Copper tubing is now being hung from the ceiling of the Social Hall. Shortly, baseboards will be installed in the Sanctuary and balconies, and our steam boiler will be converted to produce hot water for our new, high-efficiency, low-maintenance heating system.

February 7, 2024 – Asbestos Remediation – DONE!

All the asbestos insulation has been removed from the Temple’s heating system in these areas and throughout the Social Hall. The dark pipes in these photos had all been covered with asbestos. Now that it has been removed, we can proceed with the heating system improvements.

Tom

January 31, 2024 – Goodbye Asbestos

Here are our hazmat specialists removing the asbestos insulation from the old steam heating pipes above the Social Hall.  That’s why the building has to be closed.  Once this work is complete, another team will begin to install the new, corrosion-free copper tubing that will be used in the upgraded hot-water heating system.

Meanwhile, Facilities Committee members continue to meet with our contractor, architects and consultants to prepare for our hearing with the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission to request clearance of some external work that is part of the flood-mitigation process as well as an upgrade to our security fencing.

Tom

 

January 24, 2024 – Work Has Begun

Before the Social Hall renovation begins, we are updating the heating system.  Contractors have been in and out of the building this week to finalize their step-by-step plans.  They have torn down the metal grill that held up the old ceiling tiles, which had to be removed as part of the mold remediation after the flood.  The grid interferes with the work that has to be done on the pipes and the sprinkler system that will be installed in the Social Hall.  Here are a couple of pictures:

Next week, the asbestos insulation that’s wrapped around some of the steam pipes, and some asbestos-containing floor tiles near the boiler room in the basement, will be removed by licensed asbestos abatement experts.  The following week, after the area has been certified clean, the real work will begin on the heating system.  Much more to come.

Tom

January 17, 2024 – Big News!

Most components of the renovation were approved this week by the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission.  As soon as we receive some final drawings from our engineers, we will apply for construction permits.

Along with our architects and consultants, we will make a formal presentation to the commission in February so that we can finalize plans for the areas outside the Social Hall emergency exit walkways and steps.  We plan to install new fencing to improve security and canopies to keep the area dry, since this was the primary access point of the water that flooded the Social Hall.

The heating system upgrade began this week.  Materials have been ordered and work schedules have been set with the subcontractors.  The first step will be to remove the asbestos insulation from the old steam pipes.  The hazmat team will only be available the last week of January, so that’s when visible changes will start to happen.  We are making plans for a short period, approximately the first two weeks of March, when the system will have to be shut down.

Tom

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January 9, 2024 – The Beginning is Near!

Welcome to the inaugural entry of the new Temple Renovation Blog.  The Facilities Committee is thrilled to announce that the Temple Renovation is set to begin on January 15.  We have been working long and hard on the plan to rebuild the Social Hall following the 2021 flood but, first, we’re going to revamp the old inefficient, noisy, constantly-breaking steam heat system that has brought us so many big expenses and cold services over the past few years.  We are converting to a gas-powered hot water system should be fully operable by mid-March.

We expect our plans for the interior portion of the Social Hall renovation to be approved by the City in the next couple of weeks, enabling us to apply for building permits and then to get started on this major part of the project.  We’ve engaged specialized consultants and an attorney to make the approval and permitting process as seamless as possible.

In early February, we will appear before the Jersey City Historical Preservation

Commission to present our plans for the exterior work – canopies over the emergency exit areas on the Bentley and Harrison Ave. sides of the building and fencing under our Department of Homeland Security grant.

We will also repair the roof so that there are no more leaks and no more damage to our beautiful plaster work.  This will be done before we complete the Social Hall renovation.

This has been a long time coming but you are going to see real progress soon!

Tom

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January 2, 2024 – Here’s the Social Hall today…

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