Blackwater’s Prayer Garden

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By Dave Freneaux

It has been said “I don’t care what they say about me, so long as they spell my name correctly.”  In a sense, it is good that the new Prayer Garden under construction at Blackwater United Methodist Church is getting some publicity, because the church wants everyone to know that it will be open to the public and is intended to serve as a beautiful and peaceful place for anyone to spend some quiet moments in prayer or meditation.  Located between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall at the front of the property on Blackwater road, it will be a combination of gardens, water features, a bell tower, benches and paved walkways for anyone to visit at any time.

Indeed, the church had no intention of finding itself in the midst of controversy over permit fees.  So, here is the story as it has been explained to  The general contractor building the prayer garden and bell tower with a total price tag of over $140,000, (which has been raised through donations toward this project over many years), went to Central’s permit office and applied for a building permit. The contractor, not knowing that only the cost of the Bell Tower should be used in applying for the permit, stated the entire project cost on the application.  The permit office, never having permitted a “Prayer Garden” or A “Bell Tower” before, and seeing the magnitude of the project and the intent of the general contractor to get a permit, made the mistake of assuming that the Bell Tower had a construction cost of $146,300.77, and wrote the permit, charging $987.52.

In the final analysis, the Bell Tower was only a portion of the total project and called for a permit and plan review fee totaling $400.00.  In addition, an electrical permit of $100 and a plumbing permit of $100 are required for this project.  The total permit fees that Blackwater will pay for this construction project amounts to $600.  The initial $587.52 overpayment appears to be an honest error or miscommunication on the part of both the permit office and the general contractor.  The contractor did not identify that only a portion of the project cost on the permit application related to construction of the Bell Tower, and the permit department did not identify that same issue in their review process.

The point of this article is first to calm the waters and help give Blackwater’s Prayer Garden the quiet and inviting publicity that it deserves.  The second point is to acknowledge that while an error was made, once it was identified Central’s permit office and the Church worked cooperatively and quickly to fix the error.

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