Notre Dame group proposes public garden as compromise

BY Zachary Comeau

Photo | Grant Welker
Photo | Grant Welker
A crane has been moved onto the site of Notre Dame church.

The group suing the owners of the Notre Dame des Canadiens church are now proposing a compromise: a public garden. 
Rather than undertake a costly redevelopment of the church, Save Notre Dame Alliance is now proposing preserving the building as an architectural monument while allowing “significant new construction” on the site.
The site would be anchored by the 89-year-old church, which has been vacant for more than a decade. 
In a statement, co-leader Ted Conna said the church would be an open-air pavilion filled and surrounded by gardens with a playground, water feature and possibly even a gathering place for events.
Conna also proposed an underground parking garage.
“With a creative approach, it is absolutely possible for Notre Dame to share its site with significant new development,” he said. 
A rough estimate puts the project between $3 million and $4 million, Conna said. 
The group continues to seek a legal approach to saving the building, including a pending lawsuit against property owners CitySquare II and an appeal to the state asking state officials to complete an environmental review on the property before it’s demolished in a bid to buy more time. 
A Worcester Superior Court judge last month denied the group an injunction to halt demolition, and city officials have said the matter is out of their hands after several proposals and months of discussion.
CitySquare II, developers of the public/private City Square project, has already begun preliminary demolition work on the building and demolition is expected to take place this summer.
A spokesperson for CitySquare II could not immediately be reached for comment.