Parishioners of the St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church expect to be worshiping in a new home within two years, designed to take advantage of mountain views and wetlands offered by its Lompa Lane location.
Fund raising for the $5 million, 48,500-square-foot church gets under way with a dinner where the project's architect will speak, planned for Oct. 15.
But church spokesmen said Wednesday that the planning began five years ago for the larger church. The local congregation did its own evaluation of its future needs at that point, which showed the building that has been its home on West King Street for more than 120 years could not be expanded yet another time to accommodate growth.
Construction is set to begin April 2000, for the church with a 1,000-seat worship area, a 250-seat meeting hall that can expand to seat 500, and a tall glass wall that looks over wetlands toward the Sierra foothills.
The church site was donated in 1997 by local developer Roger Shaheen and sits at the southeast corner of the Shaheen Business Park.
Deacon Bob Evans pointed to the successful incorporation of the wetlands into the design of the business park as one of the reasons the church was attracted to the location. Cattails and other march plants sprout up in waterways that wind along curved streets in the development. Stilt-legged herons have been seen in the open areas and a coyote was looking for lunch a few days ago a block south of the Sonic Drive-In.
Raising the funds for the new church is expected to take three years, but the project is already begun. Jeff Shaheen, of general contractor Shaheen Beauchamp Builders (a separate business from Roger Shaheen's development company), said widening of Lompa Lane, with a bike path and sidewalks, started the summer of 1998, while work on a draining retention area, called a floodway, was among the work done this summer. That work was done under a building permit for installation of the infrastructure, which must go in before foundation work and site paving can begin, project engineer Glenn Martel of Lumos & Associates said.
Preliminary matters also included a survey by the Army Corps of Engineers to establish where construction would be permitted.
Just to the west of the site is a large area of wetlands that was sold by Roger Shaheen to the Nature Conservancy. To the south, land donated to Carson City by Landmark Homes to meet its open space obligation is intended to become Fulstone Park, an undeveloped area expected to feature natural trails.
The city Community Development Department reviewed the initial plans for the church site last December and made several recommendations and requests, which are reflected in a June update of the proposal, Shaheen said. For instance, the traffic flow to passengers drop-off area were changed and the number of entrances to Lompa Lane changed from three to two.
A request that the church allow eight to 10 parking places next to Fulstone Park be designated as public trailhead access is being incorporated into the plan, he said. And the church building committee walking the site recently decided that a stand of willows and Russian olive trees at the southwest corner would be left standing instead of giving way to parking spaces. The spot will become a natural meditation garden, offering a vista of the marshes and mountains.
"The church feels it is important to be a good neighbor to the community," Shaheen said. For instance, after hearing some concerns about whether any of the preliminary earthwork had affected the wetlands, he said that work was stopped until another Corps of Engineers' survey is done to certify the work was within the church parcel's boundaries.
"That's going to cost the church several thousand dollars and they did not have to do it," Shaheen said. "But the building committee wants the community to know the church is committed to wetlands, too."
The planning for the new church also included the impact of church activities on area residents. Lompa was widened to provide a left turn lane. The extension of Graves Lane to College Parkway will be completed before the church is in use, so traffic to the church will mainly fall on through streets. And the Carson City Bypass will be built along the west side of the wetlands, providing highway access at interchanges north and south of the church.
Parishioners now fill six weekend masses at the existing church, Evans said, five on Sunday plus a Saturday service in a worship area that seats about 500.
The new church will allow more worshipers to gather at once. And the Easter and Christmas services that St. Teresa's has held at the Carson City Community Center the past several years could be held at the church.
The fate of the existing church has not been decided, Evans said. The local parish could retain, convert it to another use or sell it, he said. And that decision is the local parish's to make.
"The decision will be made that's appropriate for Carson City," Evans said.
He said St. Teresa's was original housed in a church built 1860's, but it blew down the next decade. The wooden building at the heart of the current church was rebuilt in the 1870's, then sheathed in a brick veneer in the 1940's, he said. A remodeling in the 1980's included an addition.
The new church will allow the consolidation in one building of the church, its rectory and its administrative offices, which are now in three buildings along King Street.
But one institution that will not move it St. Teresa elementary school, just west of the present church.
While that school may get a new home in the future, space for it is not included in the Lompa Lane site, Evans said.