Northeastern University rejects plans to move Marine Science Center to Lynn

Last month, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) wrote to Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun asking him to consider moving the Science Center to Lynn. (File Photo | Owen O’Rourke)

NAHANT — Northeastern University has rejected pleas to move their controversial Marine Science Center from Nahant’s East Point to Lynn.

“While the university has been approached by several communities about expansion of our marine science research capabilities, we have no plans to pursue these other locations,” said Renata Nyul, the school’s spokeswoman in a statement.

She noted the school will work with Nahant residents and elected officials to expand their operations with minimal disruption.

Last month, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) wrote to Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun asking him to consider moving the Science Center to Lynn.

“Stakeholders from Lynn and Nahant have suggested locating the university’s expansion project in Lynn could be in the best interest of the university and the local community and I believe this is a potential opportunity that is worth the university’s careful consideration,” Moulton wrote.

A Moulton spokesman said Aoun has not responded to the letter or a request for a meeting.

Northeastern has proposed a 60,000-square-foot expansion on its 20-acre parcel. If approved, the project would be built into and atop the existing Murphy Bunker. The new facility would add research and teaching space, the same activities the center has been engaged in since they opened in 1967, according to the school’s website.

But many Nahant residents have voiced strong objections to the plan. In public meetings, voters have let it be known they plan to stop any expansion.

Last month, dozens of residents trekked to the school’s Boston campus to deliver nearly 1,700 signatures from opponents.

While residents say they support Northeastern’s science programs, they cannot embrace the expansion which some have called “an educational Walmart at East Point.”

Earlier this year, as opposition grew to the project, James Cowdell, executive director of Economic Development and Industrial Corp., the city’s development bank, met with representatives from the school to propose two sites on the waterside of the Lynnway for the center. At the time, he said if Nahant doesn’t want them, Lynn will take them.

In her statement, Nyul said the school does not comment on specific pieces of correspondence.

Cowdell said he was not surprised by the news.

“Northeastern has told me they are 100 percent focused on Nahant,” he said.

Thomas P. Costin Jr., a Nahant resident who served as Lynn mayor from 1955-1961, said opponents have hired an attorney to fight the project.

“Northeastern wants to build the largest building in town at a historic spot,” he said. “It’s not acceptable, the town just can’t handle it.”

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