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Second Appeal Analysis
PA ID# 073-USSYQ-00; Chabad Hebrew Academy
PW ID# PWs 823 & 1079; Gani Art Garden
The Cedar Fire was part of a series of wildfires that swept through San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties in the State of California from October 21, 2003, through March 31, 2004. The Cedar Fire started on October 25, 2003 and burned 280,000 acres. The fire destroyed the grounds, 21 modular buildings and other structures of the Chabad Hebrew Academy (Academy). The Academy is a subsidiary of the Friends of Chabad Lubavitch, San Diego, California, and is an eligible Internal Revenue Section 501 (c)(3), private non profit, accredited educational facility, which serves 320 students from preschool through 8th grade.
PWs 823 and 1079 contained overlapping scopes of work, but listed different Applicants.
PW 823 addressed destroyed fine art within the school buildings and was not funded. PW 1079 was for the stabilization of damaged outdoor sculptures in the Gani Art Garden, and was funded for the amount of $34,498.75 ($110,073 less $75,575 in anticipated insurance proceeds).
The Academy submitted an appeal for PW 823 on June 25, 2004, for $158,000 which the State forwarded to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on August 23, 2004. The appeal requested that FEMA combine the Gani Art Garden sculptures listed under PW 1079 under PW 823, because PW 1079 was listed incorrectly under another Applicant’s name. The appeal also requested reconsideration of eligibility of the outdoor sculptures in the Gani Art Garden for stabilization and restoration work, and provided additional information for stabilization and restoration of the Gani Art Garden grounds to its pre-disaster condition.
FEMA determined that the scope of work for PW 823 covered only the fine art items housed within the Academy, while PW 1079 addressed the sculptures in the Gani Art Garden. FEMA reiterated its determination that those items listed under PW 823 were ineligible because they were completely destroyed by the fire and because some of the items were also used as a part of religious worship. FEMA cited FEMA Policy 9524.6, Collections and Individual Objects, which states that “those [fine art items] that have been completely destroyed by the disaster will not receive any FEMA assistance.” 44 CFR § 206.221 (e)(1), prohibits funding for items of a “primarily religious purpose or instruction.”
FEMA retained the expertise of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC) to assess the damage and advise stabilization and restoration measures for the fire damaged Gani Art Garden sculptures listed under PW 1079. Based on the WACC report, FEMA determined that nine of thirteen sculptures were eligible for stabilization and restoration measures in the amount of $34,498.75 (110,073, less the anticipated insurance proceeds of $75,575). Estimates to regrade and stabilize the Gani Art Garden grounds and paths were not considered for eligibility because they were not identified in the original PW.
The Academy submitted a second appeal on March 4, 2005, which the State forwarded to FEMA with its support on May 2, 2005. The Academy again requested that the Gani Art Garden Sculptures listed under PW 1079 be combined under PW 823, because the Gani Art Garden was legal responsibility of the Academy, and not a separate entity. The Academy requested consideration of $146,461 in costs to repair the Gani Art Garden sculptures and grounds.
After reviewing the appeal documentation, FEMA requested additional information from the Academy regarding the items and costs in question. The Academy submitted estimates and supporting documentation. The following issues were identified in the review:
There was initial confusion on the part of the applicant regarding the Request for Public Assistance (RPA) process. As a result, the Academy submitted a separate RPA identifying the Gani Art Garden as a separate applicant. The Academy has established that the Gani Art Garden is its legal responsibility via ownership of the property and providing evidence that the sculptures were partially covered under the Academy’s Inland Marine Insurance policy. The applicant for PW 1079 should be changed from Gani Art Garden to Chabad Hebrew Academy.
Repairs to the Sculpture and Grounds
Damage to the grounds where the sculptures were located was not clearly documented in the original PW. However the grounds are an integral part of the damaged facility, and it is reasonable to incorporate the repair costs into the overall facility repairs.
These items include:
„X Construction of bases for sculptures already identified as eligible in the WACC Report and the first appeal response;
„X Equipment costs for placement of eligible sculptures; and
„X Stabilization of the grounds, and replacement of paths, benches and placards.
The Academy also appealed for additional restoration costs for sculptures determined to be eligible in the WACC report, as well as, fire damage to sculptures that were determined ineligible in the WACC report. Costs in the amount of $17,000 for surface cleaning and stabilization for the sculpture titled, “The Book of Genesis” were recommended in the WACC report, but inadvertently left off of PW 1079 Version 1 which was written for the first appeal decision. The Academy provided a note from the artist documenting the additional costs for restoration for the sculpture entitled “Menorah According to Rambam.” Attached is a spreadsheet that identifies the eligible repairs and associated costs.
The Academy did not provide adequate documentation to support the claims for repairing the remaining sculptures (Twelve Tribes of Israel, and Thirty Six Steps of the Lamed), and it was not possible to determine if the damage to some sculptures were fire related (Six Days for Creation and Shabbat, and Seduction of Adam and Eve).
The Chabad Hebrew Academy has shown that it is the legally responsible applicant for the Gani Art Garden for PW 1079, and has demonstrated that an additional $99,801.80 in costs for permanent repairs to five of the sculptures and the surrounding grounds submitted with the second appeal is eligible for reimbursement, less any anticipated insurance proceeds. However, the Academy has not shown that the remaining $46,650 in appealed work for repairs to four sculptures is eligible due to lack of supporting documentation. Therefore, the Academy’s appeal is partially approved.