On Friday, July 5, 2013, the United States Bethel family was thrilled to hear Anthony Morris of the Governing Body announce: “On Thursday, July 4, 2013, an agreement was reached to sell the six buildings comprising the 117 Adams Street and 90 Sands Street complex in Brooklyn. The sale of Buildings 1 to 5 requires that we vacate them by mid-August of this year.”
Brother Morris explained that the Laundry and Dry Cleaning Department, located on the sixth and seventh floors of Building 3, would continue to function there until mid-2014. “The 90 Sands Street building,” he said, “will likely be vacated during the 2017 calendar year.”
The sale of the six large buildings is part of the effort to move the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses from New York City to a 253-acre (102 ha) property at Warwick, New York. However, preparation and excavation at the construction site could not proceed until the necessary permits were obtained.
Hence, the United States Bethel family listened eagerly to the announcement read by Mark Sanderson of the Governing Body on Thursday, July 18, which said: “We are happy to announce that on Wednesday evening, July 17, the Warwick Planning Board unanimously approved the site plan for the new world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is the final approval needed to begin obtaining building permits to start construction. It is of interest to note that last evening’s approval came exactly four years to the day since we closed on the purchase of the Warwick property. What is more, the events of the last few days that led to this approval provide dramatic evidence of Jehovah’s blessing.” Brother Sanderson thanked everyone for their tireless work and earnest prayers in behalf of this important project. “Most of all,” he said, “we give praise and thanks to Jehovah for this important milestone in the relocation of the world headquarters to Warwick, New York.”
On Friday, July 26, Brother Morris met with some 1,000 Bethel and Regional Building Committee (RBC) volunteers who were gathered in the new dining room located at Tuxedo, New York, the staging area for the Warwick project. After speaking on an encouraging spiritual topic, he said that he had an announcement to make. “In my hand,” said Brother Morris, “I have something I just received that I would like to share with you. At the top of this form, it says: ‘Building Permit.’” Before he could read any further, the volunteers erupted in thunderous applause. To the delight of all in attendance, Brother Morris went on to read portions of the first major building permit, which had been issued by the town of Warwick just three hours earlier.
What Is Happening at Wallkill, Warwick, and Tuxedo?
Since the start of the expansion project at Wallkill in August 2009, about 2,800 brothers and sisters have served there as temporary volunteers. The project includes a new residence building, a parking garage, and an office building. One of the present residences is being renovated, and adjustments are being made to the printery, laundry, auditorium, services building, and main lobby. Construction on the Wallkill expansion is expected to continue until the end of 2015.
In the meantime, construction began at the site of the future world headquarters at Warwick. In the few months since the work started, grading and excavation, as well as installation of underground utilities, have been under way. Construction of the first three buildings—the Vehicle Maintenance Building, the Visitor Parking Garage, and the Maintenance Building—began late in 2013. These buildings are critical in caring for the equipment and the on-site workforce, both during and after construction. They will be followed by the construction of residence buildings and the Office/Services Building, which are slated to begin in 2014.
The Tuxedo facility, a 50-acre (20 ha) property located about six miles (10 km) north of Warwick, “is a support site for the future world headquarters at Warwick,” explains Construction Project Committee member Kenneth Chernish. “It will house some of the volunteer workers and will also be used to support them with meals, materials, and equipment.” To expedite the construction project at the Tuxedo facility, selected RBCs in the eastern part of the United States have been assisting with certain aspects of the work.
Many volunteers who work with RBCs around the country look forward to having a share in the construction of the future world headquarters. Skilled brothers and sisters are already making themselves available for temporary volunteer service on these construction sites. Leslie Blondeau, who works in the Plumbing Department with her husband, Peter, says, “Working together draws us closer to each other and gives us memories that we will cherish for a long time.”
“I am currently working with the electrical crew here at Tuxedo,” says Mallory Rushmore. “Every day it is exciting to see all the people here—all the volunteers—everyone working together.”
“This is a remarkable privilege,” says Quincy Dotson. “I thought that I would be giving a lot of myself, but in actuality, I’ve been gaining so much more.”
“It is thrilling to be a part of this project,” says Brother Chernish. “The brothers and sisters are doing the job quickly and efficiently, and at the same time, they’re enjoying it immensely.”