Prairie UU was founded more than 25 years ago,
but has never had a home of its own.

This will soon change!

Please follow along for updates regarding the Spirit of Life property
that will soon house our congregation…
Updates can also be found in our weekly newsletter.



February 11, 2024 Update ~ Susan Reardon

Improvements to Current Structure

  • Structural requirement – The first floor needs to meet a higher load rating to upgrade a residence to an assembly building (40 pounds per square foot to 100 pounds per square foot)
    • The floor joists under the first floor needs to be reinforced to meet the higher load requirement
    • To perform the structural engineering calculations necessary to do the work a soil test needs to be done, we are getting quotes for soil testing
    • We have one quote to do the work and are waiting on a second quote
    • This work needs to be done regardless of where the sanctuary is located
  • HVAC
    • Current system is older, inefficient and shuts down periodically
    • A contractor has been selected to replace the system from several contractors who submitted quotes for a new system
    • New system will be an efficient electric heat pump with gas back up for sub zero temperatures
    • We are holding off on installation until the floor joist work is complete to alleviate removing and replacing the new ductwork
  • Septic System
    • New tank is installed
    • Retaining wall removed by septic contractor has been re-built to support the foundation of the main house
    • Current leach fields were inspected and are functional, we have a valve installed that will allow us to alternate use with the original fields to extend the life of both

Plans for the Usage

  • Two story structure – using the second floor of the house requires a sprinkler system to meet code requirements
    • We are still pursuing quotes however have been unsuccessful finding a contractor
    • Only quote received was for $250,000 for the sprinkler system
    • We are pursuing options without use of the second floor with the hope that we can proceed without the expensive system
    • Even if the second floor is blocked off it may need to have a sprinkler system however the county cannot make a determination until formal plans have been submitted
    • Having a well with a sprinkler system would require a very large water storage tank
    • We investigated connecting to Parker water however the tap fee is expensive and we would have to sign over our water rights. We are no longer considering this option
  • Location of the sanctuary
    • We are continuing to compare two options – either the garage/fireplace room or building an addition off the back
    • Option B – The garage/fireplace room sanctuary would be a cheaper option. RE would utilize the basement space since we cannot use the second floor
    • Option E – An addition would be significantly more expensive however it would give us more space with the RE rooms located in the current garage and would preserve the fireplace room
  • Paperwork
    • Submitted form to the Planning board for a Presubmittal Review Request
    • Researching and learning about the paperwork component of the project
      • Site Improvement Plan (SIP) Paperwork and Process
      • Usage by Special Review (USR) paperwork
      • Land use Proposal Form
  • Financial
    • Tax Exempt Status
      • Investigation into getting Spirit of Life LLC designated as a non profit

Go Green Initiatives

  • New energy efficient dishwasher ready to install
  • All light bulbs upgraded to LED
  • New Energy efficient HVAC system to be installed
  • Solar being investigated for road side sign
  • Dishes, cups, mugs and flatware purchased for events

Baldwin Gulch in Use

  • Storage of tech equipment, hospitality resources, PUUC materials
  • Craft club meeting
  • Spaghetti dinner
  • Weekly Spirit of Life meetings

Concept Drawing for Dream Plan

  • Sanctuary Addition off East Side, capacity 100 people
  • Two RE classrooms in current garage space (one dual use for minister office), Teen RE classroom in basement
  • Desk and file for minister in classroom
  • Two ADA accessible bathrooms in current garage space
  • Fireplace room preserved for small meetings, minister counseling
  • Fellowship area larger utilizing current living room with powder room removed, and current dining room
  • Decks on three sides – flanking two sides of sanctuary and two sides of the fellowship room


January 26, 2024 ~ Susan Reardon

Summary of recent progress is as follows:

Contractor – Curt McQueen (General Contractor and Doug Hunt (Structural Engineer)

  • Reviewed reinforcing the first floor joists to meet 100 #psf requirement to convert first floor from residential to assembly
  • Reviewed Option B (garage sanctuary) and Option E (sanctuary new addition)
  • Need Soil Report for property for calculations
  • Discussed determining the costs of current options,
  • Doug Hunt (structural engineer) will calculate and submit proposal
  • Curt McQueen (general contractor) will submit revised estimate for current options taking limited budget into consideration

Sprinkler System

  • Contacted 5 more companies
  • Continuing to follow up and request estimates
  • Sarah Melius investigated getting a connection to Parker Water
  • Tap Fee will be significant
  • Spirit of Life would need to pay for putting in the line across Pine Dr (removing or going under roadway)
  • We would have to relinquish well water rights (cannot have two sources of water, even if county water only for emergencies)
  • We are no longer considering

Floor Plans

  • Determination of floor plan pending Sprinkler System results
  • Option B Garage Sanctuary w/o 2nd floor
  • Option E New Addition w/o 2nd floor


  • HVAC
  • Stopped working again
  • Needs to be replaced ASAP with cold temperatures
  • Solicited and reviewed proposals and estimates from four contractors
  • Selected 5280 Heating and Cooling to install new system (electric heat pump with gas backup)
  • Local company
  • Compatible with solar panel integration
  • High energy efficiency system
  • Trane equipment (top rating in Consumer Reports for reliability/overall satisfaction
  • Air conditioning fully electric
  • Heat fully electric majority of the time, gas back up when temperatures too low for the heat pump to work
  • Lifetime warranty on heat exchanger, Ten Year labor warranty
  • 8% Discount for church


  • Purchased new heavily discounted high energy efficient dishwasher


  • Hired removal of dead trees North of barn to protect structure


  • Sarah Melius investigated the possibility of tax exemption, would require Spirit of Life, LLC to become a nonprofit


January 1, 2024 ~ Susan Reardon

Teague and Tucker Van Buren have been working full time on the Spirit of Life, LLC property. (note: All of the expenses for the renovations and work, both planned and unexpected, are being paid for by the LLC, not PUUC). We continue to investigate the options for the sanctuary location with the key factor being the requirement for a very expensive sprinkler system if we plan to utilize the second story.

Summary of recent progress is as follows:


  • We have had three contractors come out to give estimates for a new system, we are awaiting written estimates.  The system will be an electric heat pump with gas backup.
  • The current electric heat pump shut off again and needed to be reset
  • Interior gas line installed (work performed by Teague and Tucker Van Buren)
  • Exterior gas line installed (work performed by Xcel Energy)
  • Third contractor for solar panels reviewed property and submitted bid
  • We are investigating the possibility of getting on county water (for emergency use only)  if it will reduce the cost of the sprinkler system by eliminating the need for a large water storage tank


  • Installation of new tank required imploding old tank, which was close to an exterior retaining wall (adjacent to the NW corner of the front porch).  Contractor removed existing retaining wall to perform the work.
  • To prevent foundation issues of the main structure the retaining wall, that was removed by the septic contractor,  needed to be replaced ASAP
  • Excavation and replacement of wall is now complete, additional unanticipated expense of $29,000.00

Plumbing Work (preventative maintenance performed by Teague and Tucker Van Buren)

  • replace kitchen faucet
  • replace laundry water faucets

Electrical (work performed by Teague and Tucker Van Buren)

  • light fixture in laundry room

Safety  (work performed by Tucker Van Buren)

  • install smoke detectors


  • Application for change of use being prepared to submit to the Douglas County planning department


December 11, 2023
The Spirit of Life Building Committee received several emails this week after the Social Justice League meeting. Below, please find additional information regarding the Spirit of Life property for clarity…

Green initiatives – Reardon family: For those of you who don’t know me, I would like to assure you that my own family is very environmentally conscious and make it a priority in our daily lives to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We don’t use paper towels (cloth or sponges) or tissues (handkerchiefs only). My children, now adults, are 2.5-3 years apart so for a ten year period we had between one and two children in cloth diapers. Now that we are grandparents with two babies visiting we are back in the diaper washing mode on occasion! We have shampoo and conditioner bars, powder dish soap, dishwasher detergent pellets (not plastic pod), laundry detergent that all come in compostable packaging – no plastic bottles. We pay for weekly compost service pick up. For events and parties we use real dishes and silverware, glassware, mugs (over 35 people compostable plates that go in our green compost bin). Our trash goes in a paper bag (when there were the 6 of us we only filled one paper brown bag a week with trash, now that we are empty nesters we fill one paper bag every other week). For Christmas and Birthdays we re-use all of our wrapping paper. The four kids grew up using scissors to cut the tape and folding the paper back up. I will be pulling out wrapping paper with some pieces close to 30 years old next week. Although our clan has never known the delight other kids found in ripping open a gift, they are proud to do their part to reduce and reuse! A highly energy efficient green home for Prairie would be a dream come true!

Important Key Facts – HVAC System:

  • Teague Van Buren is a licenced HVAC professional with 46 years of experience
  • Teague is in support of installing solar panels on the property
  • The current furnace is 13 years old, stopped working, was repaired, has shut down 4-6 times since being repaired.
  • Winter is upon us, there is a concern about frozen pipes (flooding, property damage etc) since the building is not occupied extensive flooding would not be noticed for some time.  A replacement heating system needs to be installed ASAP
  • The Spirit of Life committee has had two different solar companies out to the property to review the building and grounds and provide estimates ($11k-$24k upfront after rebates)
  • The roof was in poor condition, therefore needed to be replaced prior to the installation of solar panels
  • Spirit of Life got quotes, ordered materials, scheduled work and had a new roof installed on both the main house and barn
  • Spirit of Life verified that solar panels would not void the warranty on the new roofing materials
  • An independent HVAC contractor advised Spirit of Life that an all electric heat pump system cannot keep up with colder temperatures in Colorado, he recommended gas back up
  • An independent HVAC contractor advised Spirit of Life that dual fuel hybrid systems are more complicated with electronic boards and sensors, prone to not being as reliable
  • Spirit of Life has solicited multiple contractors for quotes for both electric heat pump with gas back up, as well as a gas heat with electric heat pump for AC
  • The HVAC system has NOT been selected, we are awaiting quotes and are still gathering information
  • Even IF a gas furnace were to be installed, Air Conditioning, water heater, clothes dryer, as well as all lighting and appliances would be electric

Budgetary Concerns:

  • The Spirit of Life, LLC purchased the 7053 Baldwin Gulch Circle for $970,000 on September 18, 2023
  • Spirit of Life, LLC originally committed $150,000 for renovations, now increased to $200,000
  • Prior to purchase the inspection revealed that the roofing and gutters needed to be replaced ($34,500)
  • An architectural firm was hired to provide drawings of different layout options and to liaison with the county codes office (estimated $17,000)
  • Initially it was believed that the cost of removing several walls to open up a sanctuary space and moving the kitchen would fall within the budgeted amount
  • Contractors have been slow, or non-responsive, to provide quotes to make key decisions
  • Estimate to convert the building from a residence to an assembly building to meet code requirements was $368,000, more than double what was anticipated, and we have since learned this estimate is low for the sprinkler system
  • Estimate for the commercial sprinkler system (required for a 2 story structure) is $250,000
  • The committee continues to pursue multiple estimates and explore options
  • Budget = $200,000 – $17,000 (architect) – $2,700 (security cameras)
  • There are not unlimited funds!  We have received an extremely generous gift but also a very long list of strict ADA and Fire Safety requirements with shockingly large price tags.
  • Once PUUC moves into the building we will be responsible for the cost of utilities.  If electric is more expensive we need a budget review by the finance committee to ensure we can pay the higher monthly utility bill
  • Solar Panels remain a goal, however budgetary limitations may move them to the long term master plan.


  • OPEN THE DOORS!  Many, many hours have been spent in meetings with numerous contractors, engineers, architects and county code officials working to find the path to opening the doors for Prairie to rent the space!
  • Once we figure out a way to open the doors, using the funds we have, the plan was to use any extra money for improvements such as solar panels.  Currently we are in a position with a deficit rather than a surplus.

Support from Newly formed Social Justice Committee:

  • Research Xcel Energy rebates for commercial properties with new dual fuel systems (HVAC with electric heat pump, gas back up)
  • Research CORE rebates for commercial properties with new dual fuel systems (HVAC with electric heat pump, gas back up)
  • Research State and Federal tax credits for new dual fuel systems (HVAC with electric heat pump, gas back up)
  • Prepare a cost and budget analysis based on research of current costs of gas vs electric in Colorado, historically gas has been cheaper to heat a building
  • Research grants for solar panels
  • Teague Van Buren has already put up over a million dollars to provide us with a home, PUUC cannot ask him to take out a loan for solar panels
  • Initial quotes for solar panels required a significant financial outlay, which we do not have
  • Research into becoming a Green Sanctuary (UUA)


  • An email was set up ([email protected]) before the vote was held to determine if PUUC was interested in renting 7053 Baldwin Gulch.  Everyone has been encouraged via emails, newsletter, during the congregational meeting to send questions and concerns (note: this mailbox has remained nearly empty with only 3 emails before Sunday)
  • Periodic open meetings can be set up for members to ask questions
  • Updates will be provided in the newsletter (not weekly but when there is something to report)
  • Please inform me (Susan Reardon, [email protected]) of any information collected and research that is being done so that we don’t have duplicate efforts.
  • All quotes and estimates are being uploaded to the PUUC Google Drive

Important reminders:

  • Teague Van Buren has provided us with a once in a lifetime opportunity. So far it has been a series of challenges.  He is at the property nearly every day working to make this happen (today he was on his hands and knees with his son Tucker replacing leaking pipes and valves in the bathrooms).  Show your gratitude!!  Don’t miss the forest for the trees!
  • Please do not reach out to Teague, Claudia or Tucker Van Buren with complaints, the [email protected] was set up for the purpose of communicating any concerns or suggestions.  This email is monitored daily.  It also serves as documentation to help track action items to add to our ever growing list.

I hope that this answers some questions and clears up misinformation. This worthwhile endeavor is a collaboration between Teague, the current property owner, and Prairie UUC, the hopeful future owners. The Building Committee serves as a liaison and is open to all suggestions and comments as we work to create the best possible home for Prairie.

Susan Reardon
Chairman Spirit of Life Building Committee


November 27, 2023
Spirit of Life has a gotten a new roof, and Prairie UU’s belongings have been moved out of their storage unit, and safely onto the property. Thanks so much to the folks helped with the move!


November 13, 2023
Thank you to all Members who participated in our Proposed Property vote! The outcome of the vote was an enthusiastic YES! Watch this space for updates on renovations, timelines, volunteer opportunities, etc. Please direct any questions, suggestions, or comments to [email protected].


October 30, 2023
The Spirit of Life, LLC has purchased a 4.6 acre plot of land in Parker with a house and barn. The property will be renovated to meet all safety and ADA codes.