New location site turns up as possibility for labyrinth

NASHUA – A move’s afoot to locate a meditative labyrinth in Rotary Common, the city’s newest public park, instead of Greeley Park, where it was first proposed.

A committee hoping to bring a spiral, mosaic walkway to the city will meet Monday to discuss the latest twists and turns in the issue.

Ironically, the original conceptual plans for Rotary Common included a labyrinth in the still-undeveloped portion of the park south of Salmon Brook, said Kathy Hersh, the city’s community development director.

Now, through the office of U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, the city is in line to get $190,000 to develop that portion, and the city and group members are discussing whether the site might indeed be suitable for a labyrinth, Hersh said.

One issue might be whether the site is sufficiently quiet, as it abuts Main Street and borders a repair shop, said Mara Huberlie, one the volunteers working on the labyrinth project.

“It’s moving along pretty quickly, based on the number of e-mails flying back and forth,” Huberlie said of the discussions. “A lot of it is working out the logistics.”

The first phase of Rotary Common was dedicated last September, roughly three years after ground was broken for the project. The park is named for the contributions of the Nashua Rotary Club.

The land includes roughly two acres on both sides of Salmon Brook, on the west side of Main Street across from the Main Street Marketplace plaza (formerly the Globe Plaza).

In the mid-1990s, the state Department of Transportation purchased the former manufacturing site as mitigation for wetland impacts connected with the F.E. Everett Turnpike widening project. City officials and the Nashua Rotary Club formed a partnership to redevelop the land into a park.

The developed portion of the park includes several sculptures created during the city’s second sculpture symposium.

Work on the second phase is due to begin this fall, Hersh said.

As for the labyrinth, proponents first eyed Greeley Park, though several residents protested that the park wasn’t a suitable site.

A group calling itself the Labyrinth and Reflection Garden Committee held an open forum at St. Christopher’s Church on July 1 to discuss its proposal to build a walking labyrinth and garden in the park.

The labyrinth the group hopes to raise $100,000 to construct a labyrinth similar to one at Boston College.

In the center is a giant stone circle, containing a path of inlaid bricks to form a maze. Typically, one enters the labyrinth from the outside and walks a spiral path to the center and then back out again while praying, meditating or reflecting.

Labyrinths have been used by a variety of religions, Christian and non-Christian, and prayer labyrinths were frequently included in medieval churches.

The Nashua labyrinth would be “at least interfaith, but I think it’s beyond that,” Huberlie said.

Walking a labyrinth could be spiritual, meditative or merely relaxing, depending on the person walking it, she said.

For her, the labyrinth is more “a cultural work of art. It truly is like a work of art on the ground,” Huberlie said.

“People will take to it what they want to,” she said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or