By Staff

NAHANT (CBS) – Nahant voters have come down in favor of taking property on East Point, which is owned by Northeastern University, by eminent domain.

Northeastern University has owned a small marine science center in Nahant since 1966. Now, the university wants to expand into its own unused land with a 55,000-square-foot building.

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On Saturday, the town voted to acquire the property “by gift, negotiated purchase, eminent domain or otherwise.” The land will be used for open space, recreation, conservation and historic preservation.

Voters authorized the acquisition, 647-271, after more than an hour of debate.

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“You get a 12-acre oceanfront park and conservation land without roads, without lights, without 5 acres of 80 geothermal wells, and without the biggest building in town. For $35 a year, I think that’s the bargain of a lifetime,” Selectman Joshua Antrim said.

Other voters spoke out against the acquisition, with one voter saying that authorizing eminent domain will “open a Pandora’s box for years of legal wrangling.”
Antrim told voters that a commission will have to determine the fair market value of the land parcel. The town estimates the real estate value will be about $2 million and legal fees will be $500,000, leaving the town with a $2 million surplus for the project.

The project will be done under the Community Preservation Act. CPA projects are funded by a surcharge on the real estate tax, so the town will repay the $1.5 million, 30-year bond out of this money.

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The town voted to use a $3 million anonymous donation and to authorize a $1.5 million, 30-year bond to fund the acquisition. The bond question, which required a two-thirds vote, passed 575-98. Staff