Romney signs Nantucket land sale bill

By Daniel J. Fitzgibbons

Gov. Mitt Romney this week signed a bill authorizing the sale of University-owned land on Nantucket to an island-based conservation group.

The measures allows the University to sell the 110-care harborfront parcel to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation for $20 million. The purchase is aimed at protecting the land''s natural beauty and wildlife habitats from development.

The foundation will pay UMass $20 million in five $4-million installments over the next five years and the University’s field station will continue to occupy 65 acres of the property for teaching and research activities. An adjoining 45 acres will be open to the public for low-impact use that does not interfere with University research and teaching activities.

The University plans to use $12 million of the sale proceeds to support endowed environmental science faculty positions across the five-campus system. The remaining $8 million will endow a “University Excellence Fund” that will advance teaching and research.

Last week, the Board of Trustees approved naming the Nantucket Field Station in honor of the late Grace Grossman, a Nantucket resident who played a lead role in brokering the land sale to the conservation foundation. The facility will now be known as the Grace Grossman Environmental Center.