A Correspondence from the Grand Secretary, RWBro Stephen Green PDGM was received as follows:
Dear Sir & Brother,
Many of the Lodges and other Masonic Orders (which for the purpose of this communication will all be included in the term “Lodges”) meeting in the Sydney Masonic Centre have been users of this facility for many years – if not since the building’s opening in 1979. Irrespective of how long your Lodge has met here, everyone would appreciate and acknowledge that the building’s quality and standards have been maintained and provide excellent facilities.
The building’s air-conditioning system, since its commissioning in 1979, has only, on all but one occasion, undergone preventative maintenance servicing, but this is no longer sustainable for its future. As a result the Executive Council and Board of Directors of Sydney Masonic Centre (SMC) have approved a major upgrade of all air conditioning equipment in addition to another major project, both to be carried out at the same time.
The second project referred to is to convert Level 4 (the present location of the Grand Secretariat) to a new function space and to move the Secretariat to Level 5. The new Level 4 function space will provide the commercial arm of Freemasonry in this jurisdiction – the Sydney Masonic Centre Function Centre (SMCFC) – a much needed additional facility that all business plans and studies indicate will provide a marked improvement to the trade of SMCFC and will also, of course, be available as required by Masonic Orders for Festive Boards or other Masonic gatherings.
Unfortunately, taking on these major capital projects will come at some inconvenience as, during the period of work – particularly on the air conditioning – no clients at all – Masonic or commercial – will be permitted use of any part of the building.
The works are scheduled to start the day after the December 2018 Communication (13th) and aim to be completed for the building to be fully operational on Monday 6th May 2019.
During this period all tenant Lodges will need to relocate to another Masonic Centre for their meetings and Festive Boards.
To minimise inconvenience perhaps the Masonic Centres at Kensington, Double Bay, Northbridge, Artarmon, Willoughby (Laurelbank), Epping, Petersham and Concord West may be able to offer a short term solution. These Centres have been contacted on this matter and have been notified of possible short term accommodation needs of some Lodges. Naturally, any negotiation for temporary use of these facilities will need to be negotiated with the Secretary and/or Manager of the particular Centre and your Lodge’s Management Committee. To assist, a list of these Centres with contact information is attached.
The following should be noted and considered:
- The Board of Management will provide dispensation to Craft Lodges for a temporary change in accommodation when a decision has been made by your Lodge;
- The Board is mindful that Lodges may determine not to meet elsewhere for all or part of the period (131hDecember 2018 to 6th May 2019) which could entail up to 5 meetings;
- Lodges will be granted special dispensation NOT to meet for all or part of the above period when that is the decision made;
- On behalf of all Lodges (including other Orders) the Grand Treasurer will be requesting to Executive Council that each Lodge be provided a subsidy (amount to be confirmed) for each meeting held away from SMC and also a proposal to provide financial assistance to those Lodges who will be financially disadvantaged during this period of time over and above the level of the subsidy;
- During the closure of SMC there will be NO rental payments made by tenant Lodges to SMC and your standard bookings will be maintained and come back into force when the building can be again utilised (May 2019).
The Board hopes that District Lodges might liaise with each other to perhaps use the same Centre during this brief period. If this can be achieved and irrespective of what Lodges decide where to meet, the Board suggests that a minimal amount of regalia and other furnishings be removed from SMC (all cupboards will remain locked and untouched) and that a ‘sharing’ of regalia etc. be undertaken.
Each Lodge that does meet elsewhere for all or part of the SMC closure, if it so desires, will be provided with a special certificate to display at each Lodge meeting rather than having to take with it the Lodge’s Warrant or Charter.
Would you please advise me by 30th September 2018 of your Lodge’s decision in relation to using an alternate meeting place during the closure period of SMC. This will not only assist in planning for the closure but the Board will need to be aware of the decisions made by each Lodge before deciding on the official responsibilities of each District Grand Inspector of Workings bearing in mind that the period of absence from SMC is not great considering many Lodges do conduct minimal work/meetings in December and January.
Lodges should bear in mind that the information provided above hopefully covers all areas of concern that may become evident, but all Lodges must be assured that the Grand Lodge will be offering as much assistance as it can during this brief, but necessary, period when SMC will not be available. Lodges can also be assured that during the period of closure each will be regularly updated with the progress of the air conditioning installation and the re-arrangement of Levels 4 and 5 so as to enable each to plan for a return of regular meetings on Level 3.
Finally, when design of the SMC was undertaken some 50 years ago the Ionic Room on the ground floor was to have a purpose different to the rest of the building. That original plan/concept did not eventuate its structure means that it is the one area that will require little work or change in this project and, as a result, the Grand Secretariat, SMC Staff and a temporary Board Room will be established in that area during the project’s undertaking.
Stephen Green PDGM