The Crusher Lot is an undeveloped parcel with a mature stand of oaks, maples, ashes, and other tree species. The underbrush includes wild brambles, pyracantha and volunteer mock orange. Ground cover includes native species such as jack-in-the-pulpit and wood anemone, but also introduced lily-of-the-valley and wood hyacinths, and too much poison ivy and garlic mustard. Downed trees are for the most part left as is, to decay and support the ecosystem.
The Crusher Lot is home to an unexpected abundance of wildlife, including foxes, coyote and the occasional deer, along with gray and black squirrels, racoons, possums, screech owls, turkeys, woodpeckers, flickers and many other species of birds. There’s also a shallow seasonal spring and small vernal pool which provides water for the wildlife in the spring.
The Crusher Lot is an island of quietness and fresh air in a dense part of town. It is a popular off-road refuge where folks from nearby neighborhoods can “forest bathe” (shinrin-yoku) only a short walk from their front doors. One of the trails is a walking route to the Ottoson Middle School and another acts as a shortcut between the Quincy Heights neighborhood and the Arlington Heights business district. A local nursery school conducts nature walks and scavenger hunts for toddlers. LARP Adventure Program creates adventures for Ottoson students in the Crusher Lot woods. And it’s a place where “Fairy huts” appear by magic.
Ownership and conservation restrictions
The Crusher Lot is owned by the Town of Arlington, and under the jurisdiction of the Park and Recreation Commission. In 2001, Town Meeting created a new “Open Space District” (Article 14) and the Crusher Lot was included as a protected property (Article 15). Open Space is protected by Massachusetts’s Article 97 (“Right to a Clean Environment”), which requires a 2/3 vote of Town Meeting to approve a major change of use, for example to sell it to a developer. Arlington’s Conservation Commission lists the Crusher Lot as a “Land Under Conservation”, and has assigned a Land Steward to protect “soil from erosion, plants and animals from destruction, ponds and streams from pollution, and the beauty of the land from litter and vandalism”. Arlington’s 2015-2022 Open Space and Recreation Plan lists the Crusher Lot as a “Woodland Area”, intended to “provide peaceful areas for passive recreational activities, walking and nature observation, and are second growth reminders of more heavily wooded areas or forests of the past.”
The portion of woods near the school (not shown in green below) and the adjacent ball field are Arlington Public Schools property. Click on the image below to open the GIS map of the area.