Lama Kathy’s Blog The Journey Home: Neighborhood Approval

Rebuilding the Columbus KTC has been a gradual process. First we gathered advice from our founder, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, then asked our sangha friends to help us choose the number of rooms and the size of the rooms in our re-imagined KTC building. Then we asked our architect, Keith Spruce of Milwaukee, to design a building based on this advice.

We reviewed the plans with the KTC sangha in early 2016, and got more advice and input.

The next step was to ask permission of the City of Columbus to put a larger building on our (now vacant) lot at Rich and Grubb streets.

For this, we received the assistance of Attorney Thomas Hart and Paralegal Lizabeth Russell, as well as help from Landscape Architect Rick Fay of OHM Engineering (great name, right?). They helped us review our plans with City of Columbus officials through meetings with the East Franklinton Review Board.

The East Franklinton Review Board is the chief zoning authority for our neighborhood, which is part of a larger redevelopment district located just west of Downtown.

City officials have long wished to see the rejuvenation of our neighborhood, which was the first neighborhood of the city of Columbus when the settlement was in its infancy in the late 18th Century. If we wanted to follow Khenpo Rinpoche’s advice to put a larger building on our lot, the EFRB was our destination.

We brought them our first plans in June of 2016; they offered advice and sent us back to the drawing board. After making changes to suit the zoning needs of the neighborhood, our team, led by Attorney Tom Hart and aided by drawings from Keith Spruce and Rick Fay, took the plans back to the EFRB in mid-December.

The project took another step forward at that meeting in December, when the EFRB gave us a conditional approval to construct the newer, larger center on Grubb and Rich streets!

Our design team still has to meet the EFRB’s conditions for final approval (which consist of adding extra exterior design elements and aligning ones we already have). We are working to bring those additional elements to the EFRB in early 2017.

But the good news is that we are approved to rebuild in Franklinton. May all beings benefit!

Meanwhile, Director Kim Miracle and the amazing KTC Board (Tanya Schroeder, Steve Phallen, Justin Fitch and Eric Weinberg) along with Building Committee volunteers, have interviewed possible contractors for our project, and a Capital Campaign Committee of KTC volunteers has met with our professional fundraising advisers from Mollard Consulting to develop a game plan for raising the money that will be needed to make the project a reality.

A lot of money will be needed to rebuild the KTC. We received about $500,000 in cash from the insurance company for the loss of our building and its contents; the insurance company has promised another $100,000 for code improvements if we rebuild a new structure.

That’s $600,000 to start with.

Add to that approximately $100,000 raised from the GoFundMe emergency fundraiser and the about $50,000 in donations from our home monastery KTD, Khenpo Karthar Rinpohe, various lamas and the Chinese community, and we have about $750,000 at our disposal.

Our architect has estimated the cost of the new building at around $1.4 million; that means we need to raise $650,000 to make the new center a reality.

That’s a lot of money for a small center like ours. We have about 60 members – some individuals, some families – and many have modest means. But we are going to look far and wide to find people – both in Columbus and around the world – who know the value of building a dharma center and how much merit there is in creating a home for the dharma.

We will need a lot of help and encouragement. The first construction bids have come in, and they’re a little higher than we anticipated.

We’re going to meet with contractors this week and next to see if we can trim some of the expenses, and begin to contact our donors and friends to see if they can help us make the building a reality.

These are tense times, but we have a lot of confidence that we can find ways – with the help of you and all of our dharma friends – to make our center a reality.

We’ve made great progress thus far. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and the Board are delighted to be moving into the next phase of the project. Khenpo Rinpoche is already thinking of ideas for the shrine (which he has promised to help “furnish” with statues and paintings), and Board members are working on such things as lists of appliances and furnishings that will be needed in the new building.

We are so thrilled to be at the juncture in the planning process, and invite you to continue reciting the Tashi Prayer.

or the OM MANI PEME HUNG or KARMAPA KHYENNO mantras to help make these dreams a reality.

May all beings benefit from the work being done for the dharma in Columbus; may the Columbus KTC come “home” again in the coming year!