Coincidentally, on the day construction of the Workshop began on January 20, 2011, former Manger/Caretaker Bill Goodrum, who served with his wife Pamela from 2000 to 2002, arrived at Meher Mount unaware of the day’s events.
He had the opportunity to witness the groundbreaking.
The barn was basically meant to be temporary. At that time there was no money and no shelter for anything. What I did on the barn was triage: meant to be basically a tent to protect the few things that survived the fire. At the time, we couldn't even afford a tent.
To repair that structure is no longer a wise investment. Please: just tear it down. It's time.
It all started with a routine question from the Ventura County Planning Department in reviewing plans for the construction of a new Workshop at Meher Mount: “How far is the septic tank from the proposed buidling?”
"Far enough," we said.
That question got the Board to thinking about the septic tank – one of those “deferred maintenance” projects that keeps getting, well, deferred.
After spending the summer of 2009 talking to contractors and securing bids, Meher Mount found an individual and a firm, Phil Riege of Coastal Constructors, who would take on the Workshop project for a reasonable cost.
In 2010, the construction and engineering plans were submitted to Ventura County for approval. As with any project at Meher Mount, there were some unforeseen delays, obstacles, and plan changes.
In the beginning of the planning process for the Workshop, a number of ideas and building sites were discussed. All of these ideas were eventually determined not suitable for Meher Mount, its needs, and its finances.
The Board and Manager/Caretakers went back to the basic criteria for the Workshop.
The need for the fireproof garage/workshop sparked a series of discussions which led directly to the development of a long-range master plan for Meher Mount.
Meher Mount had earlier begun long-range planning discussions by holding two community meetings – February 7, 2004 and May 22, 2004 –to brainstorm ideas that would help guide the master plan.
When the $40,000 donation was made, the donor specified that $20,000 be used to purchase a new tractor and $20,000 be used to build a "fireproof" garage/workshop to house the tractor.
The reason for the "fireproof" request was because on October 14, 1985, a fire had swept through the Upper Ojai Valley destroying all the buildings, equipment, and vehicles at Meher Mount.
The idea of building of a new Workshop started on January 13, 2007, at a work party in honor of Agnes Baron’s 100th birthday. Agnes Baron, born on January 17, 1907, was a co-founder of Meher Mount who cared for the property for Avatar Meher Baba from 1946 until her death in 1994.
Whenever individuals are doing the manual labor that has been one of the hallmarks of Meher Mount - pulling weeds, trimming trees, cutting tall grasses by hand, and hauling trash and debris - the discussion always turns to how to make the tasks easier.
After the initial fire inspection in Spring of 2009, the Fire Department of Ventura County required Meher Mount to clear the shrub growth at least another 30 feet from the "temporary" workshop. That was in addition to the 70 feet that had already been cleared.
Manager/Caretaker Ray Johnston told them that Meher Mount had never been required to do this clearance in the past. And, since Meher Mount doesn’t insure the garage, fire fighters were not expected to try and save the building in a fire.