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46 years in making, McCandless' St. Alexis project soon could kick off

| Thursday, June 7, 2007

St. Alexis parish in McCandless is planning to build a church with seating for 900 and room for hundreds more in a social hall.

The parish's existing school and church were built in 1961, with the intention of converting the church to a gymnasium after enough money was raised to build another church. Forty-six years later, that plan is coming to fruition.

McCandless council approved St. Alexis' land development application at a recent meeting.

The church will be built across from the current rectory, close to Old Perry Highway. The hall in its lower level will seat 300 to 320 people and have a warming kitchen.

The current church will serve as the parish activity center and school gymnasium.

The town planning commission and zoning board spent months addressing issues of buffer yards, drainage and parking. The parish will provide 300 parking spaces and reconfigure entrances to keep traffic moving.

A yard will provide a buffer between the St. Alexis property and its neighbors to the north. A decorative fence and trees and shrubs will line the property, and "no parking" signs will be placed along the road at the entrance to residents' driveways.

The Rev. Paul Zywan, pastor at St. Alexis, said getting approval for the land development was an extensive process.

"It gives me an appreciation of everything that goes into it," Zywan said. "The new church will provide a splendid home for families to gather, groups to meet, children and adults to learn and an inspiring environment to worship God."

Site preparation will begin this year, pending approval by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

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