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BOSTON-The development rights to the 240-acre Thompson Island, the last privately owned island in the Boston Harbor, were sold for $4 million. The National Park Service and the state’s Department of Environmental Management acquired the conservation restriction from the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center.

The sale is the culmination of a seven-year campaign on the part of a coalition of non-profit agencies, led by the Trust for Public Land, which helped negotiate the terms of the transaction. The restriction prohibits any future development on 80% of the island, or 195 acres, and limits further development on its existing 45-acre school campus. It also guarantees permanent public access to the island.

George Price, project manager for the Boston Harbor Islands, tells GlobeSt.com that prior to this deal there was “no legislative requirement that would prohibit [Outward Bound] from doing development as they wished or selling it to private” developers who could develop the land to the extent that the city and the property itself would allow.

Price points out that the agreement is binding even if Outward Bound sells the land. Outward Bound can improve the buildings currently on its campus and build additional ones on that site as long as they are “compatible” with the buildings that are there, says Price.

$2 million in state funding for the agreement was secured through the 1996 Massachusetts Open Space Bond Bill. The state’s congressional delegation set aside the other $2 million in the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“This project completes the permanent protection of all of the Boston Harbor Islands,” says Robert Durand, the state’s secretary of environmental affairs. The island is located off Dorchester Bay and is the fourth largest in the Boston Harbor, out of 34, as well as the closest one to the mainland.

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