Update on FUUSN Parking & Santander Bank Lot

I want to update everyone about the current situation regarding FUUSN and the proposed redevelopment of the Santander Bank building and parking lot by Robert Korff, head of Mark Development, the new owner of the property. As some of you may already know, FUUSN leadership began informal conversations with Robert Korff and his representatives starting last Spring when our Minister Erin Splaine and Susan Bartlett, Chair of the Operations Council went to see Robert Korff to discuss the impact that the development project was expected to have on FUUSN. These informal discussions have included a public meeting held at FUUSN on May 31, a Newton Land Use Committee meeting held at Newton City Hall on June 12 and meetings in the past few weeks between principals of Mark Development and members of our Operations Council, Laurel Farnsworth and Ted Hess-Mahan. These latter meetings occurred after Mark Development approached FUUSN with an offer to enlarge our existing parking lot at no expense fo FUUSN to help mitigate the impact that the redevelopment of the Santander Bank property would otherwise have on FUUSN operations. The proposed expansion of the parking lot would allow us to keep our current preschool tenant in place by giving FUUSN an additional 12 spaces, enough parking for drop off and pick up and useful parking for evening meetings and day time visitors. In addition, Robert Korff has verbally committed to us being able to use his parking lot on Sunday mornings until noon after construction on the bank property is completed. The idea for an expansion of on-site parking at FUUSN has long been part of our master plan, envisioned by our member architect, Curt Lamb, more than a dozen years ago.

While the proposal to increase the amount of on-site parking at FUUSN by no means solves all of the parking problems of West Newton Square, it would significantly lessen the impact that the loss of parking on the adjacent lot will have on FUUSN, may better position us to have additional paying tenants in the future, and would modestly alleviate the parking demands in West Newton Square by providing additional off street parking for FUUSN members and guests on site. The Board and Operations Council are in active discussion with the developer, carefully considering this offer, weighing the pros and cons, understanding that many of you may have thoughts, concerns, and strong feelings about this proposal and the implications for FUUSN and for the broader West Newton community. This is a complex and dynamic situation we are facing involving competing visions and values, a situation that has significant implications for the short-term and long-term well being of the Congregation. We plan to hold an open informational meeting at FUUSN after the Sunday morning service on August 19th for interested FUUSN members and friends to ask questions and express any thoughts and concerns (location and time will be announced.) We will schedule another informational meeting in September for those unable to attend the August 19th meeting on a soon to be determined date. I want to reassure you that the Board and members of the Operations Council will be thoroughly reviewing and vetting any formal proposal we receive from Mark Development to ensure that it is in the best short-term and long-term interests of FUUSN. In the meantime, I encourage all of us to educate ourselves about the situation by coming to one or both of the open informational meetings scheduled for August 19th at FUUSN, following the morning service (aprox. 10:30am) and for September (date tbd). Please feel free to communicate your thoughts and concerns directly to anyone on the Board via email or when you encounter us face-to-face at Sunday services or in any other venue.