March 25th, 2021 – We are writing to update you on events transpiring at Saint Sava Cathedral of New York.
COMPLETED WORK: We were appointed as the Board of Trustees (BOT) of St. Sava Cathedral on November 19, 2019 by His Grace, Bishop Irinej, for our collective expertise, to act in what can only be described as an emergency situation: including to act in the best interests of the Cathedral, to ensure safety to the public, and to stabilize and protect from further deterioration what was left of our beloved Cathedral after it was ravaged by the fire on Easter Sunday May 1, 2016. This “Stabilization and Enclosure” phase of the work on the Cathedral has been successfully completed (see above), including: clearing debris underground and above ground; reinforcing the walls; installing a permanent steel structure roof (which will need slate overlay and interior finishing); repairing gutters and connections to the main sewer; reconstructing floors in the basement and ground floor; re-framing the windows and protecting them until we install permanent windows. If this work had not been done to save what was left of the Cathedral, particularly the unstable walls, the remains of the structure would have been ordered demolished. Case in point, from the very beginning NYC ordered stability monitors to be installed to monitor the structure and progress of the work.
The total expenses include the initial stabilization, subsequent “Stabilization and Enclosure Phase,” permits and inspections, additional insurance costs and all the supporting costs not directly related to the construction itself such as the rental of the parking lot spaces for safety clearance. All the expenses incurred to secure the Cathedral are fully documented, including invoices. We have been fortunate that the expenses have been covered by the insurance policy payout and thanks to the effort led by the current BOT President an additional settlement, remaining confidential under the terms, allows us to plan for further work. As is long standing practice and policy, any member in good standing can schedule to review Income and Expense documents by signing a non-disclosure.
We are close to reaching an agreement in principle for the sale of air rights next to the Cathedral, which will be submitted for approval: first to St. Sava members/stewards in good standing; then to the Bishop and the relevant Diocesan bodies as required by and in accordance with our By-Laws, SOCNSA Uniform Rules & Regulations and the SOCNSA Constitution; and, finally, to the Attorney General, as required by the relevant laws of the State of New York. For more on the air rights sale please see the Statement of our Diocesan Council found here:
We continue to incur approximately $8,000 a month for the parking safety space adjoining the Cathedral and for the scaffolding until the brownstone and slate on the roof are addressed to NYC Landmarks Preservation requirements.
The Board of Trustees of St. Sava remains committed to the best of their abilities and thanks to their substantial experience, to prioritizing the safety, reputation, and financial stability of our parish in support of the spiritual mission of our Faith. This has become a major commitment of time which we gladly undertake in pursuit of unity and restoration of our community and the Cathedral.
NEXT PHASE: We requested and obtained recommendations from the Landmarks Preservation Commission of the top experienced architectural firms in New York to proceed with the next phase of the rebuilding. We drafted a Request for Proposal (RFP) (available on the church website) and submitted the RFP to the recommended architectural firms. Six firms have done walkthroughs of our Cathedral with Fr. Milan and BOT members in order to complete their proposals.
We discussed the critical need for an “Owner’s Representative” necessary to fully engage with the architectural firm, and all the stake holders (parish, BOT, Diocese, and Bishop) to keep the project moving. An “Owner's Representative” advises the owner to ensure the owner's project needs are met and that the project comes in on time and under budget. The “Owner Representative” needs to have significant experience and skills in project management of complex construction projects and represent the sole interests of St. Sava Parish in the design, bid, selection and construction phases. As the planning advances, this role may become a full Project Manager depending on the makeup of the team as the planning advances. We have reached out to several firms and individuals in this field and are reviewing their proposals.
We are in the planning stages only. No decisions or expenditures, save on-going, are being made. No contracts have been entered into or selections made.
The role of this BOT has been, is and will always be to work with the parishioners, members/stewards, Diocesan bodies and our Bishop in a collaborative and fully transparent manner and to pursue all means to protect the interests of St. Sava Cathedral, our Diocese, and the Serbian Orthodox Church to the best of our ability. This BOT will follow all the rules and decisions that encourage unity, as our late Patriarch, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej, prior to his passing, has called upon all Serbs in North, Central and South America to do.
We will continue to keep you apprised of developments, progress and will encourage your input and involvement on matters as they come up or otherwise. We want what we believe our parishioners want, what our Bishop wants, what our Patriarch and hierarchs expect of us; what 20,000 Serbs in NY, 1 million Serbs in the American diaspora and 10 million Serbs worldwide want – a finished Cathedral to rise from its ashes for us and all future generations to come.
In Christ’s Service,
Board of Trustees of the Cathedral of Saint Sava