Small Parcel, Big Impact.
We are excited to present a true community conservation project in the Harugari/Pratt Street area of Cleghorn in Fitchburg, MA.
North County Land Trust has an opportunity to acquired a 1.5 acre undeveloped building lot, that was left over from the Quarry Lane development (listed as 5 Quarry Lane) to be preserved as conservation land.
Join others as we connect community through conservation.
At it’s core, this project is about seizing an opportunity to:
- protect environmental justice neighborhoods from further disturbance,
- provide community building and outdoor learning opportunities, and
- promote a return to nature-based play as a critical component to early childhood development and outdoor recreation opportunities.
Acquisition of this parcel, with the support of the community and private fundraising initiatives, will achieve all these goals. We are so pleased to have succeeded in negotiating with the developer/landowner to prevent the intrusive development of this parcel.
The Story of the Last Building Lot
The land that became Quarry Lane was subdivided in the 1980’s but the houses weren’t build until the early 2000’s. During that time, the Harugari and Pratt St. neighborhoods were heavily impacted. Neighbors complain about cracked foundations from the blasting of rock for the new house foundations, and their formerly dry basements now flood as water that used to be absorbed by the adjacent woodlands finds new routes down the side of Rollstone Hill. Some neighbors unsuccessfully fought to try to prevent the loss of their “neighborhood woods” and minimize the impact of the development.
The last remaining undeveloped parcel (5 Quarry Lane) was put on the market in 2018 which caught the attention of a neighbor who reached out to NCLT.
NCLT took a closer look and discovered there was a surprising amount of value contained within the lot as undeveloped land. It abuts approximately 100 acres of City conservation and municipal land including the summit of the famous Rollstone Hill and Quarry. The city is currently improving the trails on Rollstone Hill and this parcel could provide neighborhood trail access to that trail network. But most importantly, the impact of the development of this particular parcel promised a significant negative impact for the neighborhood and for one abutter in particular, Busy Bees Preschool.
This remaining long, narrow lot wraps around the playground at Busy Bees preschool and along 4 private lots who already experience seasonal flooding to their properties. The land is currently wooded with mature hardwood trees, mountain laurel, and other native plants, large boulders (that would need to be removed) and the granite ledge, for which Rollstone Quarry was famous for, not far below. Tree clearing, heavy machinery, and significant drainage infrastructure would all be a part of the construction for that one, single-family house.
Busy Bees preschool itself is a microcosm of the Fitchburg community. Their student population is a rainbow of diversity in every way. The school offers dual-language English/Spanish instruction and free meals for all students. Busy Bees also prides itself on its award-winning natural playground recognizing the critical role Nature plays in brain development. The trees and natural surroundings of the adjacent lot could provide the perfect opportunity for enriching the education of the Busy Bees students—a population targeted for early childhood educational support.
If this lot were to be developed, all of the trees surrounding the preschool would be removed and the opportunity for access to the abutting City land would be lost, not only to the students but to the rest of the area neighborhoods as well. The elderly, low-income and long-time residents would yet again, be faced with the consequences of the construction of an ill-sighted house lot.
This is why North County Land Trust is energized to help.
Our Conservation Plan for Quarry Ln
The North County Land Trust is purchasing the 1.5 acres to own, ensuring its permanent protection, and will work with the City, neighborhood, and community organizations, like Fitchburg Conservation Commission, Busy Bees Preschool, Growing Places, and the Fitchburg Greenways Committee, to manage the stewardship and access of the property.
We’re excited about the possibilities for this lot, the neighborhood, and connecting with our new neighbors.
Thank you for supporting this important project. If you’d like to get more involved, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Please consider becoming a member of NCLT as well so we can continue to help communities connect through conservation.
Quarry Lane Project Neighborhood Meeting
Meeting Notes from September 17, 2019- Fitchburg Public Library