Quarry Lane Conservation Area and Community Garden, Fitchburg, MA

This 1.2 acre property in the in the Harugari/Pratt Street area of Cleghorn in Fitchburg, MA is a true community conservation project.

Our Conservation Plan for Quarry Ln

We are working with our program partners Growing Places and Maria Paulino from Busy Bees Preschool, Mayor DiNatalie and the City of Fitchburg, and neighborhood residents to manage the stewardship and access of the property including the development of a community teaching garden.

At it’s core, the acquisition of this small parcel was 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.

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.

5 Quarry Lane Submitted Building Permit Plan

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.

Garden at Busy Bees Preschool. Just beyond the fence is the location for the proposed driveway for 5 Quarry Lane.

If this lot had been 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, have been faced with the consequences of the construction of an ill-sighted house lot.

This is why North County Land Trust was energized to help.

Current Conditions on 5 Quarry Lane looking down towards Busy Bees Preschool