PO Box 9342
Moscow, Idaho 83843
Click below to see a summary video of our Capital Campaign Building Project.
August 27, 2023, Progress with Landscaping
It has been a hard summer to make much progress with the landscaping around the UUCP. With the end of the pandemic (maybe), the restart of real life, and the commencement of activities in our remodeled building, everybody is too busy again. Besides, it has been too hot to think about working out in the sun, let alone actually doing the outside work.
Still, some work is getting done. Archie George has been making progress on the fence along the wall behind the addition. The fence is required by Moscow city code – since the fence is high enough to be a fall hazard. I visualize the area enclosed by the fence as a meeting or classroom space, with a table and chairs. A good place for a summer meeting in the shade of the sequoia tree.
Also behind the addition, by the northwest corner of the old church, the new retaining wall and the stairs are almost complete. Before the wall, this was just a raw, often slippery cut bank. The wall and the stairs were largely the work of Dennis Becker. We still need to add a handrail on the stairs.
Our new storage shed is now in place, largely through the efforts of Ryan Urie. Who would have thought we’d already be running out of storage space in our new building?
Our current big project is the new bike parking area. During construction, the bike racks were removed from in front of the church and the old yellow house. We will relocate most of them to the east side of the church near the ADA ramp. Last week Marcus Smith, Al Poplawski (and maybe some others) met to use Marcus’s electric tiller to loosen the soil. On Saturday, Dennis Becker, Margaret Dibble, and Tom Salsbury worked with shovels, pickaxes and wheelbarrows to remove the soil from the area. I even made a cameo appearance, mainly to check the dimensions, and to say they were doing a wonderful job. After a bit more dirt moving, we will dig holes to hold six bike racks perpendicular to the lower part of the ramp. Then I estimate it will take a yard and a half of ¾- gravel to bring the space to the level where we can lay some of our pile of pavers across the area (in circles to match the patio in front of the church). There’s a lot of work yet to do and we will need some more volunteers. Is anyone interested in learning how to lay rectangular paver blocks to make circles?
The dirt from the bike area didn’t travel far – just around to the other side of the ramp. It is not easy to see in this picture’s shadows, but the swale is intended to guide water from any heavy rainstorm down under the ramp and across the bike area – instead of onto the kitchen floor. This actually looks like pretty good soil. What native shade plants do you suppose would like it here?
November 7, 2022
Water, Water Everywhere
Both the addition and the old church continue to yield surprises. Following this year’s wet spring the sump in the bottom of our new elevator pit overflowed with water- obviously water that had flowed horizontally under the foundations of the new addition. One of the few remaining items on our construction “to do” list is a permanent pump for the elevator shaft sump. Hopefully this is the last of our “supply chain” issues.
This was not entirely unanticipated. The Yellow House basement regularly had water problems addressed by water collector channels in the floor and a permanently installed sump pump. The moisture that seeped into the old church basement was less visible – flowing under the wooden floor where it rotted floor joists and rusted the cast iron support posts. It was perhaps 15 years ago when a sump pump, a forced air blower, some new steel support posts and a partial new floor greatly improved the moisture problems under Friendship Hall. In our more recent construction, the wood floors under the kitchen and office were replaced with concrete, and the 4 remaining cast iron posts were replaced with steel.
However, it is too early to celebrate. I got a phone call Friday afternoon reporting that water was flowing into the kitchen, apparently coming from the east exit stairwell. Working with a mop, Margaret Dibble had collected 4 or 5 gallons from the kitchen and Friendship Hall floors. There had been about 5 inches of snow that morning, followed by a steady rain. Apparently, the melt water ran down the steps and found its way inside. Exactly how remains uncertain.
This picture of the stairway taken several days later shows the drain on the right, where water is supposed to go. The drain was neither clogged nor full. While the landing is rather flat, it appears dry near the door so there must be some slope toward the drain. There is also a raised doorsill that looks watertight. I think the villains were a worst-case deluge and the notorious rock foundation under our old church. There are wide cracks where the stairwell wall butts against the foundation which probably let water flow into and through the foundation.
In the past, intruding water could flow unobserved under the wooden kitchen floor. Now, the only place for water to go is on top of the new concrete floor. Several fixes seem possible. First, those cracks should be patched with some modern material that bonds and flexes better than the old patching cement mixes. Unfortunately, this will have to wait until it dries out and warms up, probably next summer. In the meantime, I am trying to think of some way to channel worst case melt water toward the drain and away from the cracks without blocking the exit door. A third water source might be the roof of the old church. The gutters are 30 feet in the air, but they badly need cleaning and work is needed on the downspouts. They presently dump water quite near the stairwell. The problem is obvious in the second picture – the soil behind the wall is so wet that water is oozing through the cracks between the wall and the foundation. We also must remember to clean leaves from the stairwell, so they don’t clog the drain, and clean out snow to prevent another deluge.
I see one other potential leak problem. It is visible below in my picture of the middle of the three south windows. The concrete sill has broken up – a possible entry path for water.
Note how the concrete layer was daubed over the top of rubble foundation rocks, and against (not under) the wood sill board. The rock on the foreground actually stuck up through the old concrete sill and was probably the cause of its breaking up. Presently this opening could collect water from a strong south rainstorm and channel it down into the middle of the 3 foot thick foundation wall. The other two window concrete sills are unbroken, but this spot needs a patch when it warms up and dries out.
The second picture shows what caught my eye as I was looking at the windows – a praying Mantis clinging to the screen. Seems appropriate for a church planter bed. I didn’t ask if it was Swedish Lutheran or UU.
November 3, 2022
UUCP Receives the Orchid Award
Each year the Moscow Historic Preservation Commission presents Orchid Awards to recognize outstanding examples of historic preservation and stewardship in the community. This year’s honorees include an individual, two community organizations, and the owners of two residences. One of the Orchid Awards went to the UUCP for the renovation of our 115-year-old church and for the new architecturally consistent attached office and classroom wing. The award was presented by Moscow Mayor Art Bettge and Commission chair Nels Reese and accepted by Rev Elizabeth Stevens at a ceremony November 3rd.
The photos below include the presentation ceremony (from the left: Commission Chair Nels Reese, Rev Elizabeth Stevens, Joel Hamilton, Mary Jo Hamilton, Stephen Flint, Moscow Mayor Art Bettke, UUCP Board President Judy Brown),
The framed certificate.
The UUCP page from the brochure describing our project
And an image of the UUCP project taken from a window of the 1912 Building.
October 13, 2022
Solar, Bike Parking, Block Walls
The solar project is progressing. I posted a picture yesterday showing the panels near the ridge and the west side. I took the following picture mid-day Thursday. They seem to have finished the west side and are working on the east side of the gable. I have no idea what is involved for an electrician to hook up the wiring.
Thinking about the bike parking project led me to wonder what we are going to do with at least 8” of topsoil that we will excavate around the racks. This thought led to contemplate the raw dirt bank at the northwest corner of the old church building. The plan has always been to rebuild the block wall and stairway that had to be removed at the start of our construction project. It is presently a quite useless space, and the raw bank would be very muddy if it ever rains again.
This is a diagram of what I visualize doing in both areas. For the bike parking, we need to excavate to about 8”. This will be backfilled with about 6” of ¾- crushed rock, compacted, and topped with a layer of fine rock. Somewhere in this process the racks will be put in place, and finally the pavers will be placed around the racks. I am open to discussion about the number and position of the racks, and discussion about the size and shape of the area that needs to be excavated.
The diagram shows my vision of how the wall can be built. At 4’, the wall would be too tall to stand without special engineering. I propose two walls, each a bit more than 2’ tall, about 5’ apart, stepping up the hill. The area between the two walls will be big enough to hold a significant part of the topsoil removed from the bike parking area. I would turn the bed between the two walls over to the Green Sanctuary Committee for native plants.
There is an existing wall against the left side of the space which I propose to use as the left side of a stairway. The new wall would step up the hill and form the right side of the stairs. The upper wall continues the line of the back wall of the church, forming a long rectangular room 12’6” wide and 25’ long. The use of this space is open for discussion.
This all suggests that we should build the wall first, before the bike rack. I think we can build the walls ourselves, rather than hiring someone. I have done it before, and I can supervise it again. All we need is some strong people, stronger than our geezers.
October 7, 2022
Solar Progress, Bike Racks
The solar installers are making progress, but slowly. They got started about 10 days ago, dividing their time among several projects, then lost a few days from rain. This week they got most of the rails in place to hold the panels.
The roof is very steep and high, so they are careful to use safety rope and harness. They also object if anyone intrudes into their fall zone. I was OK working nearby on the pavers, but I did occasionally hear things drop. Once it was a $10 bill when he dropped his wallet. I chased it down in the breeze and put a bit of paver on it.
I still haven’t put the sand dressing on the patio yet. It seems there are lots of things around home that need taking care of before it decides to be fall. Next Tuesday sounds like a good day to do the sand.
We’re not done with pavers yet. We need to make a bike parking area east of the church reusing the bike racks we removed from in front of the Yellow House and church. It will go next to the ramp, probably on the south side.
Prepping the area and installing the racks will be nontrivial work. The area must first be excavated, and the bike racks put in place. Then about 6 inches of coarse gravel must be levelled around the racks and compacted. Then comes a 1-inch layer of fine crushed rock. I am hoping someone will volunteer to lead the prep work. I can return to lead the paving around the racks. This drawing shows the general idea.
October 3, 2022
Pavers in Place
The patio pavers are all in place. I intentionally worked alone today, given my obsession with the detail of the circle pattern. I finished the cut and fit process at 5:30 this afternoon. I was beat, and my knees hurt, so I left the piles of scraps to pick up later.
I want to thank all the volunteers who helped lay pavers; Pat Fuerst, Tim Hatton, Archie George, Marcus Smith, Dennis Becker, Scott Millner, Tom Salsbury, Chuck Harris, Al Poplawski, John Pool, Milo Flint, Steve Flint, Belinda Rhodes, and Shane McFarland. Did I forget anyone? The help of volunteers was essential for this project and was very much appreciated. I think everyone discovered that laying paver circles is interesting, but hard work – hard on the back, hard on the hands, and especially hard on the knees.
The work is not over yet. We need to pick up the scraps, distribute a layer of sand on the surface, brush the sand into the cracks, and work things into place with a plate compactor. After we declare the patio totally finished, we need to shift our attention to the east side of the church where we promised to make a bike parking area. We will reuse the bike racks that were removed from in front of the church and Yellow House. The pad, about 200 square feet, will get more pavers. Maybe we can recruit some biker volunteers.
Building Project Archives