Shortly after Thanksgiving, I returned to the abandoned nightclub Faces and its parking lot, which borders the old channel of the Little River. The parking lot is gradually turning back into land.
One of the first organisms to make significant headway in the process is moss, which appears to be thriving on the asphalt
and also on the nightclub’s decaying porch.
Next to the porch there is an asphalt mountain with its own flora, foothills and caves.
To me the moss on the parking lot looked like islands, archipelagos, coastlines against an asphalt sea, a tiny green landscape that a human being can see, step around and over, but not exactly visit.
One phase in a slow transformation. If it’s allowed to continue, one day this will presumably become a meadow. For now, though, it’s property guarded by a fiftyish man with a pit bull growling on a short leash. He wanted to know who I was working for; when I told him I was a professor trying to write a book he seemed slightly mollified. He said there are plans to build an apartment building on the site, with units of affordable housing. I’m conflicted about this project. Cambridge can use all the affordable housing it can get, and with luck the project might in the end create better access to the beautiful wetland behind it, which I believe cannot and will not be built on. What effects will that have on the marsh? I don’t know. Would the addition of an apartment building increase the runoff from this site, or not? It’s already paved, though the pavement is breaking up. How would the new population affect the sewage and wastewater treatment system? Would that make it more difficult for the city to do away with the combined sewage outfall (CAM #401A) that is a few hundred yards away? If more people live next to the marsh and know about it, some of them will probably start caring about it, appreciating it — unless it gets fenced off . . . would it be possible to pass an ordinance guaranteeing public access to wetlands, the way coastal towns often maintain and defend public access to beaches? At the moment, access even to the Faces parking lot appears to be an iffy proposition, much less to the wetland behind it. I took one more picture before leaving.
The Department of Environmental Protection sign, which was lying face down before I came along, is the reason I believe this marsh will not be built on. At the right, hanging from a post, is the pink “Wetland Delineation” tape. I’m glad that the marsh has a bureaucracy on its side.