Hello Ward 7ers,
While St. Cantius Church on Hawley Street is in Ward 3 in Downtown Northampton, I've gotten enough correspondence from Ward 7 constituents on the subject I wanted to make sure you all
know about the Joint Council Finance Committee/ Community Resources Committee meeting tomorrow at 5pm, via zoom. The two committees are coming together to discuss the Community Preservation Committee's proposed grant allocation of $500,000 of Community Preservation Act funding to O' Connell Development Group to preserve the facade of St. John Cantius church. The grant requires the church be held in permanent historic preservation. O' Connell plans to build ten market-rate apartments inside the church, while using the funds to preserve the exterior. Without the funding and historic preservation status, O' Connell may go back to their original plan to demolish the church and build four luxury condominiums, as that has been confirmed to be the less expensive option.
Since the church went on the market there has been a large, organized neighborhood outpouring to save it. It is clearly beloved by many. Yet, because the Community Preservation Act is tax funded and O' Connell Development Group is a private, for-profit entity, opposition has popped up. It begs the question "What is the public good?" Is saving the facade enough to meet the CPA requirement of public good? Tomorrow night we will hear updates and get into the weeds so we can make the best recommendation to the full Council we can.
This is one of those tough, imperfect decisions and I'm hoping for a good showing from Community members weighing in at the meeting. There will be a public comment period at the beginning and some amount of time for questions/answers/comments from the public during the meeting. The project will be voted on at the Oct.6 full Council meeting. I hope you consider joining us.