Fish Net at First Baptist to be Cast Aside

Religion photo WEB 0308

For more than 40 years, the fish net structure at the First Baptist Church of La Crescenta has been an iconic piece of architecture. But over the past several years, it has developed cracks that ultimately led to it being determined a potential hazard.

And by the end of next week, the structure will be taken down.

“One of the reasons for taking the net down is we’ve repaired it before,” said Bob Baumheckel, business administrator at the church.
“But it only lasts for about 10 years and then we’ve got to repair it again, and it’s not cheap to repair it.”

Pastor Bill Flanders said the cracks have been an ongoing problem for about 15 to 20 years.

“About 12 years ago we had a substance put in to fill the cracks with the hope that would resolve it, but it didn’t,” he said.

Flanders said a structural engineer examined the fishnet about a year ago and determined it could be unsafe.

The net was built in 1965 along with the rest of the church and was designed in relation to the biblical reference, “Fishers of Men.”

The removal of the fishnet is just one of several projects the church is doing to improve its infrastructure. First Baptist has launched a capital funds campaign for members of the congregation to commit to donating a certain amount of money over the next three years to cover the expense of these projects.

Other plans to better the church include repainting the building and installing a patio outside.

Since the campaign started in December 2011, more than $190,000 has been raised.

The church has seen a large commitment from the congregation, and members say they want to see improvements made in the building.

“I committed to the campaign to see this building get needed updates so it can continue to reach the community with God’s word for many, many years,” member Tyla Break said.

Nancy Jacobson, another member, said her favorite part of the campaign is the bathroom that will be built near the sanctuary, while member Brad Short is looking forward to the modernization of the church.

The project to take down the fishnet structure is the first priority in the campaign. Larry Battin, facilities manager at First Baptist, estimates this will cost between $40,000 to $45,000.

Battin was a child when the structure was built, and said he has mixed feelings about seeing it come down.

“It’s a recognizable landmark. You come up La Crescenta and it’s there,” he said. “But in preserving pieces of our heritage we’re not throwing it away either. That symbolism of the fishnet will always be a part of this.”

Others find that the safety issue outweighs the fishnet’s aesthetics.

“I’m kind of glad it’s coming down because I’ve seen other buildings where pieces of concrete have fallen out of the structure,” Jacobson said.
The structure will be completely removed before Easter.