June 18, 2018

Judge denies injunction to stop Notre Dame demolition

Photo | Grant Welker
The Notre Dame des Canadiens church.

A Worcester Superior Court judge has denied a preservation group's motion for an injunction to delay the demolition of Notre Dame church, dealing a blow perhaps sealing the fate of the 89-year-old structure.

In a Monday ruling, Judge Gavin Reardon called the effort to save the church understandable and admirable, but the group's likelihood of success in court is low.

The ruling comes after a court hearing Thursday after the injunction was filed Tuesday. Save Notre Dame Alliance argued CitySquare II, the entity financially supported by Hanover Insurance Group developing the $565-million downtown revitalization project dubbed CitySquare, failed to follow proper state requirements for demolishing historic buildings.

The group challenged a decision from Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton saying no review of the church's demolition was necessary.

Lawyers for CitySquare II argued since state or public agencies are no longer involved in the project despite some contributions from public sources, no review is required.

Reached by phone after the decision was handed down, Ted Conna of Save Notre Dame Alliance acknowledged there may be no other options available to save the structure.

Conna did, however, say the group will take their lessons from this case and apply them to similar situations moving forward.

"We have a lot to learn from this," he said. "We intend to do what we can do this doesn't happen again."

Conna and the alliance have been extremely active and vocal for several months, including petitioning Worcester City Council to spend up to $15 million to acquire and renovate the property for municipal use.

Earlier this month, Mayor Joseph Petty said the city has exhausted its options to save the church in the absence of a private developer willing to take on the costs of rehabilitating the structure, especially as the city eyes school building projects costing upwards of $500 million.

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