Palm Springs II

     I want to remind you that our days in the Garden as we first may have known it are over.  We are now in that state which has been described as that in which humankind is torn between the anxiety of losing itself through not fulfilling its potential and losing itself through errors involved in the attempt to fulfill it.  I want to speak of two matters which may illustrate this state and also I must say many of you will not want to hear.  I do this because I believe it is part of what the Financial Advisor’s job description calls upon me to do.

     First, there has been a lot more heat than light generated in the past two years about the UUA’s real estate activities.  We took certain steps we needed to take to respond to our current needs for office and housing facilities.  I’m not going into details at this time, but I do want to share a few comments with you.  The details are set out in a page plus of text, beginning at page 2 of the Financial Advisor’s written report, the very last one in your handbook.

     We have purchased two new buildings in the past two years.  One replaced a building we already owned and had sold, the other was an office building to provide adequate work space for our staff and allow us to free up lodging space to beat rising hotel costs. The costs may seem high to some of you as compared to prices in your own communities, but they are not high relatively.  We have purchased solid assets likely to grow in value, with space more economical to operate than rental accommodations.  If we had had all of our endowment funds invested in Beacon Hill real estate in the past ten years, instead of in the securities markets, we would have a lot fewer financial concerns.

     Yes, these transactions came at a poor time in terms of the aggregate of other pressures on our working capital, but the response to our financial pressures or to the concern of some of you about the value of our real estate (if sold) is not to sell our buildings in Boston and move elsewhere.  Believe me, our concerns and problems are portable:  they will go with us.  The question is not where the UUA should be located were we starting anew:  the question is:  does it make any sense even to think about relocating - in my opinion, it does not, and those who advocate such a move have not really thought the problem through in terms of its many consequences.

     The cost of moving the furniture and fixtures would be modest compared with alternate site studies, costs of selling the old and acquiring new facilities, relocation expenses for staff including trips to the new location to find new homes and jobs for spouses, and expenses of selling existing homes and moving expenses of household goods.  Also, factor in time in planning for the move. The costs of a move in time and energy are great;  a significant amount of the attention of our executive and managerial staff would be consumed for at least two years.  Much of our momentum would be lost for that time.  Those employees not wanting to move from Boston - and I would guess it would be a majority of our staff - would immediately start to find other  jobs and leave the UUA.  Replacing them with capable people until after a move was completed would be almost impossible. 

     Can you imagine the impact on the ongoing activities of our Development Office our RE programs and services, our extension effort, or the Beacon Press?

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