Nahant residents obtain temporary stipulated order, Northeastern stops work on land


Elisa Figueras

Nahant residents fear the construction of the 55,000-square-foot research facility would fundamentally alter the character of the town.

Isabel Stephens, deputy campus editor

Late last week, Northeastern notified the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act Office, or MEPA, of its intent to resume testing at East Point, Nahant, in preparation for the construction of its Coastal Sustainability Institute. Yesterday, a judge issued an order temporarily barring Northeastern from working on the land, as stipulated by Nahant residents and the university.

In a Nov. 14 email to MEPA obtained by The News, NU project manager Tim MacKay said the testing procedures, which included clearing the area of trees and drilling a 600-foot well, would allow the university to “explore options” and “further reduce any environmental impacts.” He said Northeastern planned to begin work Nov. 18.

Following a request by the Nahant Preservation Trust and agreement by the university, Judge David A. Deakin of the Essex County Superior Court filed an order yesterday stating that Northeastern “shall refrain from further cutting, tree removal, digging, boring, drilling, dredging, altering, excavating or destroying in any way the land on top of and to the east of Murphy Bunker at East Point, Nahant.”

In their lawsuit, Nahant residents argued the land where the university plans to construct the Institute was dedicated to the public as a “wildlife preserve.” They also emphasized the impact of the testing and construction on the environment: Nahant Bay is recognized by environmental groups as an important habitat for lobster, flounder and a variety of bird species. 

Lawyers representing Northeastern sued the residents of Nahant in Land Court Aug. 9, asking for a formal declaration saying the university had not publicly dedicated the land. Their request that a judge “reconsider” granting the residents a jury trial was denied Nov. 8.

A hearing on residents’ request for a preliminary injunction will be held Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. in the Newburyport branch of the Essex County Superior Court. The jury trial on the larger dispute has not yet been scheduled.

Correction: This article previously stated that the judge “ordered” the university to stop work on the land. The order issued by the judge was agreed to by both parties of the case, and the article has been updated to reflect this.