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Nahant house goes to the birds

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
The house at 25 Furbush Road is set to be torn down by the Nahant Preservation Trust.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

NAHANT — Neighbors say Avis “Louise” Haynes, who died in 2007, would have been happy for her home to become part of the town’s bird sanctuary.

Haynes was the last person to live in the five-room home at 25 Furbush Rd., which sits overgrown with weeds and bushes and has vines climbing its sides. The roof is in disrepair and the structure suffers from water and flood damage, but through the large windows at the home’s corner, a leather chair looks out with a stack of books on the table beside it.

“It would have been nice to see the house rebuilt,“ said Jeannie Buckley, Haynes’ neighbor for about three decades. “I believe it was tied up with her will. The person who inherited it didn’t want it. But years ago when Louise lived here, she said she would leave it to the Audubon Society when she died. This would have been what she wanted.”

Emily Potts, chairwoman of the Nahant Preservation Trust said once the property is converted back to open space, it will serve as an extension to the Nahant Thicket Wildlife Sanctuary, which, at four acres, is among Mass Audubon’s smallest sanctuaries.

“I think (Louise) saw the need,” said Potts. “She was a nature lover.”

The town recently took over the 11,700 square foot property after several years of non-payment of taxes. It was sold through a public auction for $6,000 to the Nahant Preservation Trust in January.  Under the selectmen’s direction, the sale was conditioned on the existing 1,082 square foot structure being removed and the use limited to open space, giving the buyer no option to build on the land. The house was built in 1946.

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The trust is asking the town to appropriate $20,650 from the Community Preservation fund to demolish the existing house at the corner of Furbush and Walton roads. The funds will also cover the cost of remediating hazardous materials, and site restoration by the Nahant Preservation Trust.  

The trust, in a partnership with Nahant Safer Waters In Massachusetts, is committed to matching the Community Preservation money and has already raised between $18,000 and $19,000, said Potts. The overall cost is estimated to be $41,300, including excise and real estate taxes, closing costs, hazardous materials study and abatement, demolition, and filling in the ground.

A hazardous material assessment was performed, determining that the building and its partial basement is uninhabitable and needs to be demolished. Once the house is gone, the property will be returned to open space, as required under the terms of the sale.

“It’s a very difficult area,” said Selectman Enzo Barile. “This benefits the town with flood insurance. The more open space we have, especially in the floodplain, which this is, when (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) calculates our community rating system, our rates will go down. FEMA will see we’re trying to mitigate the flood rates.”

Barile added that, as the property sat abandoned, it became an eyesore and a danger to the community. As part of an intertidal zone, the property and the land around it have been difficult to build on. One landowner of a nearby property donated her parcel to the Audubon Society because she didn’t have another use for it, he said.

Potts said she expects the project to be completed in six months, should Town Meeting grant the funding.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

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