Spy Pond, Spy Pond Park and Fields, Elizabeth Island, and Kelwyn Manor Park
…..Reprinted from Open Space and Recreation Plan 2015 – 2022
At 100 acres, Spy Pond is the largest body of water located entirely within Arlington. Spy Pond is near the Town Center, adjacent to Route 2, and close to the Alewife Reservation. Spy Pond is a “Great Pond,” meaning it is a naturally occurring body of water 10 acres or greater in size. The pond was formed by a gigantic block of ice that broke away from the glacier leaving a “kettle hole” filled with glacial waters. Today, the source of the water in Spy Pond is precipitation and runoff, primarily storm water drainage from the surrounding densely populated residential areas: no river or brook feeds it.
Historic Spy Pond is a beautiful and precious community resource, although access is limited because much of the shoreline is private property. Walking, boating, bird watching, fishing, and ice skating are popular pastimes, and many people, especially families with young children, enjoy Spy Pond Park and the play area near the Arlington Boys and Girls Club.
The public park includes a playground, public boat ramp, rain garden, walking path, benches, and picnic tables. The playground and landscaped park have been renovated over the past several decades, and ongoing maintenance is provided by DPW and the Friends of Spy Pond Park. In 2010, an infestation of sand wasps in the playground required the replacement of the surfacing materials. In recent years, a high school level crew team has used the pond as its practice location and the Recreation Department offers canoe and kayak rentals to the general public on weekends throughout the summer. The Town’s Vision 2020 Spy Pond Committee and the Friends of Spy Pond Park are actively involved in stewardship and planning for pond and park improvements, including weed control treatments.
The major renovation of Spy Pond Park, undertaken to prevent soil erosion, improve drainage, remove invasive plant species, and deter geese, was completed in 2005, but continued monitoring and maintenance are required, as well as additional funding.
The work included reconstruction and stabilization of the pond edge with native plantings to control erosion and deter geese; improved pond access points lined with boulders to prevent erosion; installation of a stepped stoned embankment at Linwood Circle; regrading and improved drainage; installation of a new pervious stabilized aggregate path with cobblestone edging from Pond Lane to Linwood Street; some removal of invasive plant species and pruning of existing trees and shrubs; construction of a boat ramp for emergency vehicle access and small private boats; installation of new trees, benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles, interpretive signs and ground cover; and restoration of the existing lawn area at Pond Lane.
The recreational facilities at Spy Pond Field (a.k.a. Hornblower Field), located on Pond Lane opposite the Arlington Boys and Girls Club, include tennis courts that are slated for renovation in 2015, a baseball diamond used by the Arlington High School varsity baseball team and an open multi-purpose field used for high school and youth soccer.
Elizabeth Island, an undeveloped, heavily vegetated island in the middle of Spy Pond, was purchased by the Arlington Land Trust (ALT) in 2010 from a private owner who had announced that it would be put up for sale. The island is now permanently protected and open to the public under a conservation restriction held jointly by the Arlington Conservation Commission and Mass Audubon. ALT is managing the island for passive recreation, with simple wooded trails and landing areas for small boats. It provides a nesting habitat for various species of duck, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, and other birds and wildlife. Several properly trained and licensed volunteers search for nests each spring and treat the goose eggs to keep the population under control.
Kelwyn Manor Park along the eastern shore of Spy Pond was set aside by the private Kelwyn Manor Association when the former farmland was developed for housing in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The park contains a small beach area, a playground that was refurbished with new equipment in the early 2000s, a half basketball court, and a Little-League-sized baseball diamond. A small thicket of aspen, maples, sumacs, and shrubs stands beside the beach; between it and the water a large area of phragmites has been nearly eliminated and replaced with native vegetation as part of a recent campaign to manage invasive plants. The Kelwyn Manor Association continues to maintain the park with annual cleanups and mowing, and uses it for occasional neighborhood events.
Spy Pond Park and Fields
Size: 100 acres (pond) and 15 acres (park and fields)
Managing Agency/Owner: Department of Public Works/Park and Recreation Commission/Town of Arlington
Current Use: Recreation/Conservation
Size: 2 acres
Managing Agency/Owner: Arlington Land Trust
Current Use: Conservation
Kelwyn Manor Park
Size: 1.8 acres
Managing Agency/Owner: Kelwyn Manor Association
Current Use: Recreation