THE NSS NEEDS A NEW HEADQUARTERS!

B A C K G R O U N D

The History of the NSS Office:
NSS News
, Vol. 32 No. 8, August 1974

Office Addition Completed:
NSS News
, Vol. 41 No. 1, January 1983

Fund Raising for the Office Addition:
NSS News
, Vol. 41 No. 2, February 1983

Headquarters Property Expanded:
NSS News, Vol. 50 No. 4, April 1982

Office History in Caving in America
Chapter 12: The Road to Huntsville

Office Master Plan Ad Hoc Committee:
Report, October 2007

WHY?

The National Speleological Society office and library in Huntsville, AL have outgrown the available space.  Both facilities should be doubled in size and there is a need for storage space.  Additionally, the Board has voted to establish a museum with the office and library.  The current structures are on the Shelta Cave Preserve, which is owned by the Society. New construction and human presence may cause damage on fragile karst areas, and directly to caves.  In the interest of protecting the underlying cave it has been determined that further building or construction on that site would not be acceptable.

The Congress of Grottos passed four resolutions pertaining to a NSS Headquarters:

 The NSS has a three prong mission statement which states: 

The purpose of this Society shall be to promote interest in and to advance in any and all ways the study and science of speleology, the protection of caves and their natural contents, and to promote fellowship among those interested therein. [NSS Constitution, Article II]

The Society is focused on the study and science of caves, conservation, and fellowship. The anticipated headquarters should address all of those concerns.  The development of the headquarters is an important investment in the future of our organization.

WHAT?

The NSS Headquarters is a requirement to establish building space necessary for the NSS to conduct the business of our organization.  The NSS Office (monetary) is our Business arm, the Library (intellectual) is our Science and Conservation arm, and the Museum (social) fulfills our Fellowship and Conservation arm.  Our current requirements consist of adequate building space to house three segments of our business. We need a business office space, a library space, and a museum space.  The NSS Office space is where all of the business of the society is conducted, including member support and bookstore operations.  The NSS Library space is where all of the books and other related media including video, film, and photographs will be stored.  It is critical that fire-proof archive rooms be attached to the Library to permanently protect our paper and photo archives.  Ideally the Library will act as a scientific research center further promoting our commitment to science and the study of caves as guided by our mission and vision statement.  The NSS Museum space is where all of the historical items gathered over the years will be stored.  There needs to be adequate space for inventorying new items, storing archival items, a staging area for retrieving stored items for display, and a restricted access space to view and study items.  Museum items will be prepared for transportation when loaned out nationally and globally. The Museum should be a center of fellowship by functioning as a learning center and presenting a platform aimed towards the exchanging of ideas.  A multi-media center or auditorium would allow space for member and public viewing, training, and presentations.  Obviously, an all encompassing one site headquarters would be the most desirable option.  The labor required to operate each segment expands if the segments are located separately.
WHERE?

The number one issue in real estate is location, location, location...  In these days of internet, rapid communication, the location could be almost anywhere.  The challenge for the NSS is to sift through the available locations and select a site that will best satisfy the goals of the Society.  Property the NSS currently owns would be optimal because no additional funds would need to be expended to obtain the real estate for the building space. However, property may be purchased for the NSS Headquarters and any and all proposals will be given equal consideration.

Other important parameters include:

WHEN?

The NSS was run from Washington, D.C. out of cardboard boxes for twenty-nine years before moving to Huntsville, Alabama. 

The BOG made the decision to buy the NSS Office in Huntsville at the 6 March 1971 meeting, which was 37 years ago. That was a crossroad for us. It was an incredible step forward for our organization and provided an outstanding base of operation that promoted our vision, mission, and goals. 

And, the NSS owes a debt of gratitude to the Huntsville Grotto in particular and to any and all groups and individuals that were instrumental in supporting the office to make it successful.

The time to act is NOT now.  The time to act was yesterday.  The NSS is bursting at the seams with no more space available to operate and no more options available.  There is no more space for library books or items.  There is no more space for warehousing book store items.  There has never been any space for the NSS museum or the museum items.

We are at the crossroad again and this is our time.  Now’s the time when we have the opportunity to elevate ourselves from a cool caving club to a world class organization with a professional business face. 

Inaction freezes the NSS in time and stalling only postpones the inevitable, which increases the expense and cost of the inevitable.  The sooner we achieve a professional NSS complex the sooner we can move on to the next level of our new history.

WHO?

The who are you!  The who is every NSS member, NSS employee, NSS decision maker, and NSS contributor.  We need to come together to make housing our business requirements a reality.  Our mantra should be one purpose, one goal, one society.  The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. 

Let’s organize ourselves as a group engaged in elevating our thought and purpose above the local scene and make a conscious effort to apply our energy to resolving the NSS Headquarters issue on the national level and global arena.
 


PROPOSALS

Proposals for how to meet our headquarters needs are requested from any member(s) or internal organization(s), and will be posted here, linked from this page, for all to review. These need not be 'ready-to-implement' fully documented plans; they can and probably should start out as just ideas rooted in a location or facility that could meet our needs, and can be fleshed out as more data and input becomes available. These can and should be discussed on CaveChat. Material to be included on this page should be sent to webmaster@caves.org.

PROPOSAL A
Relocate the Office/Library/Museum to Horse Cave, KY
Horse Cave Site Data Spreadsheet

PROPOSAL B
Retain the present Huntsville, AL location by building a new HQ on land not overlying Shelta Cave

Huntsville Site Data Spreadsheet
Huntsville Site Supplement, 9 October 2009

PROPOSAL C
The Dick Blenz Nature Preserve, near Bloomington, IN
Bloomington Site Data Spreadsheet
Why move the Office to Indiana?

HQ FORUM
Held at the NSS Convention in Kerrville, Texas, on 7/21/09. Read the summary here.


THE PLAN

At its 11/7/2009 meeting in Birmingham, the Board of Governors approved the following motion:

The NSS Headquarters Commission (HQComm) is established in the Department of the President. The duties, responsibilities, and privileges of the HQComm are specified in the NSS Headquarters Commission Charter (Charter), which is hereby approved. The facilities described in the Charter will be completed no later than December 2015.

The goal is to establish a Commission of qualified people that will oversee the day to day operations of creating the NSS Headquarters while relieving the Board from getting bogged down in the grueling details. The Commission will have a free hand to work independently from the Board to make the decisions and complete the work up to specific outlined task checkpoints. The term “Archives” will from hereon replace the previously used term “Museum,” because the museum is really a subsection of the archives, like the photo, prints, music, and any other archival items.

CHARTER

National Speleological Society Headquarters Commission
(As passed at 11/7/2009 BOG Meeting, unapproved version by Peri Frantz)

A. The National Speleological Society Headquarters Commission (HQComm) is located in the President's Department and is established to enable the National Speleological Society (NSS) to fulfill its vision of having a modern headquarters facility which brings the administrative office, bookstore, library, and archives together in one location. 

The HQComm’s responsibilities shall include:

•            Creation of written operating policies and procedures
•     Site selection and acquisition
•      Facilities specifications and design
•      Development of project schedule
•      Obtaining permits and zoning changes
•      Selection and supervision of contractors
•      Financing
•      Fundraising
*    Status reports at each Board of Governors Meeting

B. The HQComm will place a high priority on the protection and preservation of the environment in general, and of caves and karsts specifically, and conduct this project as a demonstration of appropriate techniques for developing on karst lands. 

C. The HQComm shall consist of a Chairman, the OVP, and four other members. The President shall appoint the Chairman, subject to approval by the NSS Board of Governors. The Chairman will appoint the other members, subject to approval by the NSS Board of Governors.

D. The HQComm will create a general project schedule and develop a preliminary budget, to be approved by the Board, before beginning other planning and will keep the President apprised of any changes to the schedule or budget.  

E.  The HQComm shall operate in accordance with a budget developed by the Commission and approved by the Board of Governors. The HQComm shall appoint a Financial Officer to monitor all financial activity and to make regular reports to the NSS Secretary-Treasurer. All financial accounting and disbursements for the HQComm shall be handled in accordance with the Acts of the Board of Governors and NSS financial processes and reporting requirements.

F. The HQComm may engage the services of architects, designers, grant writers, contractors, and similar professionals as needed.  

G. The HQComm will obtain Board approval, prior to proceeding, at the following major checkpoints.

•     Prior to purchasing real estate
•     Upon completion of conceptual design
•     Upon near completion of architectural plans
•     Prior to engaging contractors and beginning construction

H. At any point where the HQComm requires Board approval, it may request an e-mail vote if it determines that timeliness is important. Such e-mail vote will proceed according to the NSS standard protocol.

I. The HQComm is authorized to solicit contributions and grants to the Society, and to engage in fundraising activities. All contributions and grants received by the HQComm are the property of the NSS, and shall be used in accordance with any stipulations attached to them. The HQComm Financial Officer shall provide a detailed accounting of their use.


The NSS is now soliciting applications for the Chairman of this Commission. This is a volunteer position, which will entail considerable work, and is expected to take up to seven years to complete. 
  

Job Description: Headquarters Commission Chairman

CLOSING DATE JANUARY 31, 2010

1. The Chairman of the HQComm will manage and coordinate all activities of the HQComm, in accordance with the goals and procedures defined in the Charter.  The Chairman will be responsible for all phases of the HQComm Project, including plan and design development, schedule and cost management, construction oversight, and reporting to the President and the Board.

2. The Chairman will appoint four other members to the Commission, subject to approval by the Board.  Members will be selected to provide a variety of skills and experience in such diverse areas as real estate, design, construction, finance, and fundraising.  Collectively, the Chairman, the NSS Operations Vice-President, and the four commissioners will be responsible for fulfilling the objectives of the HQComm.

3. The Commission Chairman should have experience in the management of construction (or office relocation) projects ranging from $1,000,000 to $5,000,000.  The candidate must exhibit good communication, writing, and computer skills, as well as experience working with volunteers.  The Chairman should have experience using the Design-build (D-B) construction project delivery system concept.  A Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management, Architecture, Engineering, or a related field is highly desirable.  A Licensed Professional Engineer or Architect is preferred. The candidate must be willing to travel as needed.

4. The Chairman will ensure that all project goals are approved by the Board, and are accomplished according to specifications, on time, and within the approved budgets.

5. The Chairman will communicate directly with architects, builders, and other contractors to ensure prompt and accurate performance, and negotiate with vendors, government, and public entities to represent the best interest of the NSS.  

SUBMITTAL GUIDELINES: Interested parties should submit their resumes, references, and other information to:

Gordon Birkhimer, NSS President
2807 Hogan Court
Falls Church, VA 22043
703-573-4653
president@caves.org

Submissions must include a list of project experience and 3-4 references.  This job description outlines the general nature of work to be performed, and is not an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills.


BOG VISITS TO PROPOSED SITES
As of 1 March 2010

BOG Member
Site Visit
Huntsville, AL
Horse Cave, KY
'Blenz' Property, IN
Gordon Birkhimer
Yes
Yes
Yes
Ray Keeler
Yes
No
Yes
Wm Shrewsbury
Yes
Yes
Yes
Peri Frantz
Yes
Yes
Yes
Lee Florea
Yes
Yes
No
Gary Bush
Yes
Yes
Yes
John LaMar Cole
Yes
Yes
Yes
Linda Devine
Yes
Yes
Yes
Jennifer Foote
Yes
Yes
Yes
Mark Joop
Yes
Yes
No
Ted Kayes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Bill Liebman
Yes
No
No
Scott Parvin
Yes
Yes
No
Randy Paylor
Yes
Yes
Yes
Carol Tiderman
Yes
Yes
No
Keith Wheeland
Yes
Yes
Yes
Debra Young
Yes
Yes
No

 


Headquarters Commission

President Birkhimer recommended John Scheltens as Chairman of the Headquarters Commission, and he was approved by e-mail vote of the BOG in February 2010. Here is the Bio Summary provided by John Scheltens. At the April 17, 2010 BOG Meeting Scheltens' recommended members of the Commission were approved by the BOG:

Bert Ashbrook NSS 25104 RL, FE

Steve Ormeroid NSS 19017 RL,FE

Tom Rea NSS 5683 RL,OS,CM,AL,FE

Dave Luckins NSS 14010 RL,FE

Operations Vice President (currently Wm Shrewsbury)