WEYMOUTH – From the annual Night of a Thousand Faces fundraiser and educational programming to releasing some of its healed patients, the New England Wildlife Center has for years used the land around its Weymouth building to fulfill its mission.
The use and preservation of much of that land will continue under an agreement struck between the center and the developer of the new Banner Park life sciences complex on Columbian Street in Braintree.
“As an organization, our main goal is to protect wildlife and habitats, and the destruction of land is never a good thing,” said Katrina Bergman, chief executive officer of the nonprofit New England Wildlife Center. “By working with (the developer), we’ve been able to forge some important preservation.”
The Braintree Planning Board recently approved the Banner Park life sciences development.
The two-building complex will total about 240,000 square feet next to the former state Lottery headquarters, which has already been approved for reuse as the site for a Mass General Brigham medical complex.
The site is part of a large property known as Tricon Park, which was permitted and approved in 1990 to accommodate up to 750,000 square feet of commercial and industrial space.
Bergman said the nonprofit – which treats sick, injured and orphaned wildlife and offers student programs and other services – was unknowingly using some of the land for its trail system behind the Weymouth center.
Christopher Reale, of Hingham, who is developing the project with Alan MacDonald, signed a memorandum of understanding outlining that the New England Wildlife Center will have access to a new trail that ties into several nearby conservation areas, including Cranberry Pond, Devon Woods Conservation Area and Holbrook Town Forest.
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Reale said about 40 of the 70 acres in Banner Park will remain undeveloped, and there will be trail access from the New England Wildlife Center, as well as a second trail head and a dog park. Reale said there will be access to more than 10 miles of trails.
“When you do development, you’re always balancing a lot of interests, and we’re most proud that we were able to work with the New England Wildlife Center on something that made them happy, even though there is development in their backyard,” he said.
Reale said his team will donate up to $100,000 to the New England Wildlife Center to help with the creation and maintenance of new trails. He said visiting the center confirmed that setting the land aside for preservation was the right decision.
“They’re big advocates for preservation and trail networks. They’ve already proven successful in being stewards of that,” he said.
Bergman said the agreement is “the best outcome” she could have hoped for.
The development still needs the approval of state and town officials.
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