Letter: An East Point clarification

To the editor:

As reported recently in the Lynn Item, (Sept. 22), the Nahant Board of Selectmen has begun the process of taking 12 acres of land at East Point by eminent domain. The taking — a conservation easement, not an outright purchase — was authorized by more than two-thirds of Nahant voters at the largest Town Meeting in the town’s history. 

In The Item story, the reporter writes that the “fight” centered on East Point has been going in circles “for more than 50 years.” That statement is neither true nor accurate.

As the 12 acres in question returned to a predominantly-natural state following their use for military purposes in World War II and the Cold War, they were preserved in that natural state for purposes of ecological study and to be enjoyed by the people of Nahant. 

More than 30 years ago, by a two-thirds vote, that point was underlined by a Town Meeting. It designated East Point, Bailey’s Hill, the Nahant Nature Trail, and the Audubon Thicket as protected “natural resource areas.”

The “fight” that your reporter mentions only began in 2018 when a billion-dollar corporate developer sought to build a giant, new international center on the East Point headland. 

It would have been only minimally associated with the current Northeastern University Marine Science Center. The intended conference center, with rental space, some classrooms, and garishly-lighted parking lots, was completely inconsistent with the zoning bylaws of Nahant that sought to protect the town’s wetlands, open space, and natural environment. 

A quirk in Massachusetts law appeared to allow them to ignore established environmental protections and thus, in its recent court filing, the Board expressed its intention to protect the land for a public purpose using eminent domain, as authorized by law and by the people of Nahant.

Jim Walsh

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