Mayor's controversial fence moves addiction problem across the street


BOSTON - Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s controversial move to fight the city’s addiction crisis with a new fence, has largely moved the problem to the other side of the street, Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen uncovered.

25 Investigates spent two months on the streets of Boston and found people injecting heroin and smoking crack in broad daylight on the sidewalks and patches of grass near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

Go watch the video.

Fox25Boston reports that the number of recovery beds are not keeping up with demand:

"What have you decided to do with Long Island?"
Walsh:"We're still in the process of looking at.."
"He told us that a year ago.."

A year ago Fox25Boston discovered Boston was spending millions heating and lighting the unused buildings on Long Island.

Go watch the video.



Free tagging: 


    a friend writes:

    "Folks are getting corralled to the tent to be hidden when there aren't ANY additional services there, it's simply a day shelter."

    It appears the people prefer to be on the street not in the tent. Makes you wonder why the city thought the tent would be preferable.

    From what I've learned, it's very important that the addict knows who to turn to when they're ready for recovery. Two things about this report makes me concerned. 1) no additional services are being offered 2) We don't have enough beds.

    The fence and tent seem to be more about the neighbors than the addicts but they aren't working,

    Walsh said Boston will rebuild the bridge to Long Island just not now. About the land use, for over a year now, he's said "we're in the process of look at it." And we know this, if the Olympics came to town, we'd build the bridge and let them use the island. Based on that, it appears using Long Island for homeless shelter and recover services is a low priority or out of the question. I know this, if BPDA approved a luxury condo development on Long Island, Walsh would be at the ribbon cutting and the builder would donate bigly to his re-election campaign.

    Read the whole article.

    By on

    Multiple daily ambulance trips which require a bridge, not a ferry. This was all over the news when the bridge was first closed and ALL of us wondered "why not a ferry?"

    Thousands of people visit the Harbor Islands every day

    during warm weather months. I'm sure some of them occasionally have strokes or heart attacks or break limbs or have to be rescued from the water by lifeguards or the Coast Guard. The existing emergency services seem adequate to handle all of this.

    Well. It is certainly better

    By on

    Well. It is certainly better that these people be deprived of needed addiction treatment simply because emergency personnel can't reach them quickly enough.

    At least when they die in the street due to lack of addiction treatment services, the EMTs are only minutes away.

    Mass Ave Connector

    By on

    I drive by several times a week, I was just remarking to my wife yesterday how it's basically an open air drug market & Melnea Cass has become a campground. As we drove by, my wife remarked "somebody shooting up right there"

    Don't Do Drugs

    1. That's a simple start. Sounds simple but actually works.

    2. Offer treatment.

    3. If treatment is refused, offer it again.

    4. If treatment is refused again, offer it again, along with mental health treatment.

    5. Not everyone wants to get fixed. From personal experience, I know this well.

    6. Tito is not the answer (as was stated above). Tito is scared of UPS Drivers delivering Elboa. What make you think he can be the savior to the smack crew?

    7. Marty has fully acknowledged his addiction issues, so maybe his perspective is a bit more better than yours or mine.

    8. We are giving credence to Fox 25? Really?

    9. Are we willing to pass the hat for a new bridge to Long Island? Boston Harbor Cruises would need to get combat pay to get the Methadone Mile crew on a ferry.

    Marty has a better perspective!!!??

    By on

    Are you kidding me?
    The guy is an enabler. He creates smoker friendly areas in busy pedestrian areas and turns his back on heroin and crack addicts.
    Marty Trump's fence is meant to benefit the neighbors and further marginalize one of the most vulnerable and needy segments of our society. Next I expect Marty will be announcing he will make the addicts pay for the fence.

    No. I am not kidding you.

    Not to late to run on a sticker campaign if you think you can do better.

    Also, hyperbole about comparing flat out racist behavior of the President of the United States to someone who hasn't turned Newmarket Square into Elysium isn't a reasonable argument.

    We have always have our junkies and drunks. Please show me when this wasn't true. They are on Southampton Street now, they used to be on Harrison Avenue at East Berkeley 30 years ago (also in The Pit), they were in Chinatown before that, they were on North Street in the 1850's.

    The people needing treatment are close to the places that help them manage until they get can get clean. They are also in a place away from most residential areas and are in the most marginal of light industrial areas, though if you watch what is going on now, expect them downtrodden to be moved again in the next few years. Buildings are being bought by players left right and center along Mass Ave and Southampton Street.

    Also, sorry about the smoking in pedestrian filled areas. Things must be really bad for you right now if you equate smoking in an alleyway or out in the street that has diesel trucks with putting opiates in your system.

    Comparing the Opioid epidemic

    By on

    Comparing the Opioid epidemic of today to the issues of yesterday is either disingenuous or ignorant of you. The rate of Opioid deaths in MA is skyrocketing, more than the national average. The numbers right now are bleak.

    There have been several great articles about it, on the NYTimes for one, but you can start here for more info:

    Our approach to Opioids needs to be quick, well thought through and backed by research, and we need to attack it from as many angles as we can. Marty is not cutting it. He's using his own biases to shape policy, and shunting the Long Island Bridge problem to the side in the hopes that people will let it drop.

    If you take away the drugs we

    By on

    If you take away the drugs we wouldn't have this problem. Go to the root. Stop the shit from getting here in the first place. Where are the dealers getting it?

    Oh really? Well, how's this

    By on

    Oh really? Well, how's this for an argument with many points: Corralling the addicts in a tent isn't working, either. And letting them shoot up in public isn't working, either. And the alarming increase of homelessness in Massachusetts due to drug addiction isn't working, either. And the increase in robberies, shootings and stabbings due to drug addiction isn't working, either. And the cost to taxpayers due to drug addiction isn't working, either. And navigating the drug zombies all over Boston and other parts of Massachusetts isn't working, either. And cleaning up the needles left all over the place isn't working, either. And the increase in gang violence due to drug trafficking isn't working, either. And the alarming increase of people falling onto MBTA tracks and dying isn't working, either. And the overburdened emergency rooms in our hospitals due to drug addiction isn't working either. And the ambulance EMTs driving out to another drug overdose which is paid for by the taxpayers isn't working either. And the lack of drug detox beds for people with no health insurance isn't helping, either. And the alarming increase of motor vehicles being driven into store fronts, homes, people, and being involved in other accidents due drivers under the influence of drugs (opiates, especially) isn't working, either.

    All I know is that recent

    By on

    All I know is that recent changes I've noticed mean that instead of a sizeable group of people waiting for treatment or shelter time while in a high-visibility area on the right as I drive from the expressway towards Cass Boulevard after work (which is not really any great state of affairs for them), they are now scattered - a few here, a few there - along local streets in that area, down side alleys, more concealed by greenery, less potential for being monitored, and wandering in the road more (which is not any better for them and makes me more apprehensive driving in that area).

    School gets underway in the

    By on

    School gets underway in the area tomorrow AM. There are a number of elementary and upper schools near Methadone Mile. And plenty of students crossing or walking along Melnea Cass.

    Last spring, it was a game among groups of students to see how many people they could identify shooting up.

    I drove by yesterday morning- the students will need to find a new game because men and women had needles in their hands and arms up and down Melnea Cass. I counted 4 people when I stopped for the light.

    For what it's worth

    By on

    I completely support reopening Long Island, either by bridge or ferry.

    For all of us who are speaking from our ivory towers, reopening Long Island is not unlike building a tent where we can hide our homeless addicts and pretend they don't exist, except it's an island instead of a tent.

    points of view

    If I thought homeless people or people in recovery felt like they were being warehoused on Long Island I'd agree but I don't think that.

    The facilities were decent. Buses ran regularly and I think people in recovery actually liked being able to be away. Some of the homeless people worked on a farm that grew fresh food for homeless people. That is my impression from the coverage after Marty closed the bridge and recovery services orgs had to relocate.

    I think it's obvious that when the homeless shelter and recovery beds are in the neighborhood, it's a big imposition on quality of life issues, enough for the mayor to spend the money on the day shelter tent and fences, which aren't working out as well and they had hoped so far.

    It's not Fox25

    By on

    Hasn't been for a long time.

    But sure, what are the solutions? And remember that money is a finite resource.

    You still didn't answer my question

    By on

    As for me, I think we should treat heroin as the illegal substance it is and the junkie camp as a quality of life issue. Send the precinct captain down and explain that the next time the cops are in the area the presumption will be that everyone is in possession of controlled substances (I mean, there is video supporting the claim) and searches will be made. Next, begin the sweeps of the area. Then adopt the John Costello plan above.

    If other municipalities can sweep this under the carpet, why can't Boston?

    Not acting is not a cost

    By on

    Not acting is not a cost-neutral solution. Every time the EMTs get called down there to give a shot of Narcan, every time they drag somebody to the Emergency Room, those are costs that end up on society, in healthcare costs going up. Every time a junkie breaks into somebody's car or house and steals something to sell for drugs, the police and homeowners insurance gets paid for by society (and rising premiums). Then there's the secondary traumas, the mental health and instability and family stress that comes from knowing and loving and losing an addict, and all these costs are only going up and up and up as the epidemic gets worse and worse and worse.

    We've tried doing nothing, maybe we should try doing something, and maybe save a little money in the process.

    Regional resources

    I don't know where the funding pools are for the various treatment centers but I don't think addiction cares about demographics to the point where all of these people are Boston residents struck down by drugs. Drug treatment should be a primarily state-funded thing.

    Open Long Island to developers and make 50% of it parkland. Use that money to build treatment centers throughout the area.

    Chicken/egg question - if treatment centers were evenly distributed around the metro area would that work? Or would there still be a concentration in South Bay and that treatment centers would then be overloaded with other ones empty? No talking about putting one in Chestnut Hill but say Brighton, Chelsea, Quincy, Watertown, JP, etc...

    not the same

    Long Island is a white elephant, not an easily accessed part of the city.

    again, location matters

    A public park accessed by thousands of residents and visitors is an invaluable asset to the city. An island which can't legally be accessed by residents or visitors and is not connected to the city at all is something else.

    Long Island could work but would need to have 24/7 facilities

    By on

    Long Island could work as a voluntary homeless camp and perhaps treatment and training center with residents staying there until they were ready to come back to the mainland. The problem with the ferry service for homeless isn't that the Boston Harbor cruises staff couldn't handle them (solo T bus drivers did just fine for years) but in which waterfront neighborhood does the ferry pick them up and drop them off for the day?

    The shelters tend to kick the homeless out at 7 am in order to clean and restock. Meanwhile, most of the homeless don't travel too far from the place of pickup, meaning Dorchester, Southie, Seaport, Downtown, North End, Eastie etc. would be inundated during the day. No neighborhood or politician would go for it.

    The solution might be to reopen the dormitory for sleeping at night while providing on-island treatment, farming, training, education and other activities during the day. There are no liquor stores or drug dealers on the island so unless contraband was smuggled, addicts would have a chance of breaking the cycle. Fewer boat trips, less neighborhood impact and those who don't obey the rules are banned.

    Long Wharf

    same as all of the current Harbor Island ferries.

    At the same time, the parts of Long Island that aren't used for this purpose should be opened up to the public as part of the state and national park.

    Long Island and Moon Islands

    By on

    Long Island and Moon Islands used to be open to the public until the city decided it wasn't safe to:
    1. Have the public walking across the structurally deficient causeway anymore.
    2. Have the public falling into the old sewer treatment plant storage tanks.
    3. Have the public wandering into the police firing range.
    4. Have the public wandering into the fire department training area.
    5. Have the public wandering into the collapsing bunkers at Fort Strong.
    6. Have the public exposed to all the toxic waste, lead, petrol, and varieties of poisonous plants thickly covering both islands.


    1 - no longer an issue with the bridge gone
    2,3,4 - fence them off and guard them
    5 - the state seems OK with people wandering around derelict military installations on Georges, Peddocks, Lovells, and Bumpkin islands
    6 might be the real challenge.