IS NOT WILL BE A HOME
[AT LEAST THROUGH 2023]
Q. In May you discussed looking into various relocation options. How did that go?
A. With the assistance of a real estate broker and help from the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees, I explored various options and opportunities, ranging from a storefront location in Malverne or nearby to the use of the Rabbi’s house for services and most other events. For a host of reasons, none proved as viable or suitable as our current location.
Q. Can you give us some specifics of what you found objectionable with the alternative locations?
A. Flatly stated, storefronts were just not conducive to religious activities. They present privacy, adequate space, parking, and security issues. They were costly in terms of rent and utilities and all candidates would have required extensive renovations and financial resources. The Rabbi’s house had zoning and neighbor issues and would have required costly renovations to accommodate its new use. It would also have unacceptably impacted the Rabbi and her family.
Q. You also mentioned merger in your May article. Is this still an option?
A. As you recall, I mentioned merger with another synagogue as an option but also indicated that while everything was on the table, merger was not at the top of the list. However, to completely discount any option which preserves our ability to remain viable would not be in the best interest of our congregation.
Q. We understand that we reached a tentative agreement with the Bridge Church to extent our lease beyond its scheduled expiration in 2020. Would you please provide the highlights of the tentative agreement?
A. Those of you who received my letter and attended the semi-annual Congregation Meeting held on November 13th are aware of the major provisions of the tentative agreement so I won’t repeat them here. Instead, I’ll provide the following summary of the agreement (kinda like highlights of highlights):
• The tentative agreement extends our current lease for three years, through 2023. While the tentative agreement also provided the option for an extension of up to five years (through 2025), the congregation preferred the three-year option because of its favorable financial components.
• Up-front, or prepayment of the mortgage note that is not currently due until 2020.
• Since the mortgage will be paid off, we will not be entitled to further interest payments from the Church, the effect of which will be partially offset by the investment income we will receive on the early payment of the mortgage note.
• All current services provided by the Church will continue during the new lease period plus custodial and telephone/internet services will be added.
• While not required under the tentative agreement, the Church will be making improvements to our space, including a new ceiling, accompanied by new lighting and if funding becomes available, the renovation of our rest rooms.
• No meaningful renovations will be required by us nor will we incur the disruption of relocation.
Q. You indicated that the Congregation preferred the three-year renewal option. Doesn’t this provide us with less security than a five-year extension would have provided.
A. Yes, a new lease arrangement locking up our right to occupy our present space for an additional two years (total of five years) would have provided more security for our congregation. However, it would have resulted in additional up-front costs which I believe would easily “buy” us a new lease, if we decide to pursue one, at the end of the extended lease in 2023. On the other hand, if we decide that it would not be in our best interest to occupy our present location beyond 2023, we will not be stuck with a non-refundable up-front outlay of two years’ rent for space we will no longer be using. Yes, the shorter term presents a risk, but I believe it’s one worth taking.
Q. Now that the Board of Trustees and the Congregation have approved the tentative agreement, does that mean that the deal is finalized and in effect?
A. Sorry, far from it. First, bear in mind that all the Board of Trustees and the Congregation approved was a “framework” of an agreement. Now the lawyers have to get to work and hammer out formal mortgage payment and lease documents. While I would hope that the dotting of the “i’s” and the crossing of the “t’s” will go along smoothly, I can’t promise that contentious issues will not rear their ugly head, requiring further negotiations and time to resolve. Before that however, the Church needs to get the approval of its District Advisory Board as well as its congregation. Once these steps are completed, I will return to you with the final agreements for your approval. And last, but certainly not least, the entire deal may require the approval of the NYS Office of the Attorney General and possibly the NYS Supreme Court. So, fasten your seat belt but take solace in the knowledge that we’ve progressed significantly since I first broke the news of our lease non-renewal in the May Newsletter.
Q. I’ve just returned from a trip to Mars and missed your letter and the Congregation Meeting. How can I get more information concerning the tentative agreement than you’ve presented in this article?
A. I’m available for questions at any time (even to those who were not enjoying a Mars springtime). Feel free to call me or e-mail me at any time.
Q. Will you be keeping us informed on the tentative agreement adoption process?
A. Absolutely. I plan to brief the Board each month and have periodic Newsletter articles on the subject
I hope this short Q&A addressed any questions or concerns you may have regarding the tentative agreement and our status in the Bridge Church building. I’d like to sincerely thank you for your support and guidance in getting the deal to this stage and look forward to your continued help as we bring it to a successful conclusion.
Dave Feldman, President