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Boston from Nahant

December 7, 2018

An open letter from Northeastern University

Following up on the series of informational mailings we sent last spring, we are writing again to update you on Northeastern’s proposed addition to the Marine Science Center at East Point.

Over the last nine months, we have met with many Nahant citizens and community groups. More recently, at the direction of the Board of Selectmen, we have held several individual meetings with members of the board, as well as with the town administrator.

The primary goal of these conversations has been to clear up misconceptions and share facts about the project. We have sought to understand the concerns of citizens and town officials, and to develop responsive solutions. This community feedback has been extremely valuable, and we are grateful for the collaborative input and goodwill.

In response to your diverse perspectives, we have designed three new alternatives to the original concept for a low-rise addition to Murphy Bunker that we presented last February.

These options demonstrate the university’s flexibility on the size, location, and design of the addition, and show our commitment to mitigating visual, environmental, and related impacts.

On December 11, we look forward to sharing these changes (including visual renderings) with you at a Selectmen’s Special Meeting. In the meantime, the three design options are summarized below:

  • Option A–Modified Original: This design eliminates both the visible entry tower on the western side of the bunker and the proposed Vernon Street entrance. These changes, coupled with significant efforts to obscure the building, would blend the addition almost fully into the landscape.
  • Option B—West Side Addition: This option proposes a smaller structure on and around Murphy Bunker. It will reduce the overall footprint on the east side of the bunker and hide more of it below ground.
  • Option C—Addition Behind Edwards Building: This option further obscures and reduces the footprint on both sides of the bunker by moving 13,000 gross square feet of the addition behind the existing Edwards Building—hidden from view by the small bunker that already abuts Nahant Road.

It is important to note that for the Murphy Bunker portion, each of these designs would place all mechanical systems underground to eliminate unsightly ducting, ventilation shafts, and the cooling tower. This approach also substantially mitigates noise emanating from mechanical systems.

Beyond these critical design changes, below are additional project-related commitments Northeastern will make to enhance Nahant’s unique coastal and marine resources.

Northeastern will restore the habitat to the east of Murphy Bunker, which is currently dominated by invasive species. This will allow East Point to realize its full ecological potential and provide desired ecosystem enhancements and services.

Since mid-March we have been monitoring seawater intake and discharge temperatures in Bathing Beach Cove. The data reveal that neither our current system nor our proposed future system will lead to elevated water temperatures in the cove. Furthermore, our proposed subsurface design will discharge farther out, beyond Bathing Beach.

We will reduce our seawater pumping volume request by 75 percent, from 2,400 to 600 gallons per minute.

In collaboration with Nahant lobstermen, the university will build and operate a hatchery that will ultimately provide 100,000 stage IV lobsters per year to the Nahant fishery.

Northeastern will work with town officials to realize additional community enhancements related to the project.

Like many coastal communities around the world, Nahant is facing unprecedented environmental challenges, including sea level rise, storm surge, warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, coastal pollution, and deteriorating fisheries.

Northeastern is committed to convening leading experts from many disciplines to solve these problems. These experts will be a strong ally and resource to the Town of Nahant, and other coastal communities, as they meet these challenges—now and in the future.

We hope this update provides a sense of how significantly the university’s proposal has evolved to reflect your concerns. As we have for more than 50 years, we are committed to operating in a manner that preserves, protects, and enhances the unique character of East Point. We look forward to continuing the conversation with you on December 11.

For additional information, please visit nahant.northeastern.edu.

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