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Boston quietly drops plans to replace Long Island bridge

CommonWealth reviews the progress Boston has made to replace the bridge to the one-time substance-abuse and homeless programs on the island, finds there is none; the bridge is no longer even on a city list of upcoming capital projects.

Mayor Walsh vowed to replace the bridge after it was shut in October, 2014, after decades of neglect.

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I see a lot of Tito fans promoting the idea that he wouldn't have let this happen. Walsh has handled this badly and yet again shown his tendency to make bold statements without doing his homework (see Boston 2024) but this was created by Menino's decades of neglect. Tito wouldn't have magically found the money to fix this anymore than Walsh has.

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Walsh didn't say they don't have the funding. He said the services had been relocated off the island and Quincy would fight it. The city and state had a deal to split costs. Has Tito taken a position?

I think Marty will wait until we win Boston 2032 Olympics games, build the bridge, use the island for archery and shooting events, then turn it into a luxury condo utopia. Btw, he's sticking with his story that Boston 2024 was worth it and so far no apology for calling Chris Dempsey and Andrew Zimbalist opportunists.

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Aren't they getting $153 million for the shadow skyscraper law changing development?

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State Park?
Playground for the wealthy?
Offshore wind farm?

A little bit of all 3?

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Let's give it to b.good for a nominal fee!

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Why is the island used for a private company?

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BRA buys it for $1, declares it tribal land, builds a casino and million dollar waterfront condos similar to Roosevelt Island in NYC, pockets the proceeds.

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Nope - the casino might place a shadow on part of the shoreline for 15 minutes a day in December. Non-starter. Plan again.

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Then no problem!

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"Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appears to be backing away from plans to rebuild the bridge to Long Island, partly because of opposition from the city of Quincy and partly because all the homeless and drug treatment services on the island have successfully been relocated to the mainland."

Maybe I have a different definition of "successfully."

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I see his success every time I drive to and from work, stumbling and drooling in the middle of the street, attempting to wash my windows. He should release a scale of defining his criteria for success. I would find that interesting.

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I came here to make the same comment.

Increased issues around BMC.

Threads like this appear on reddit.

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Honestly, this makes me SO ANGRY. First, our government kicked out everyone in the Long Island shelter, with no alternatives. In the middle of winter. And then it made small noises about replacing the bridge... for YEARS. And now, it tries to brush under the rug the fact that there are actually no plans for replacement.

Well, then what the heck is the plan?? Like it or not, homeless people, people with drug addictions, they are still PEOPLE, and they deserve treatment and shelter. What are our officials hoping for here? That eventually the people that can't fit into our limited number of beds and treatment centers die of exposure or overdoses on the street? Do they think this issue will solve itself, or that people don't care about these populations so who cares if it ever resolves? What am I missing here??

Abandoning the poorest and weakest of us... it makes me absolutely sick.

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What do other large urban areas in the U.S. do to deal with the needs of the homeless? As far as I can tell, Boston was the only one that would bus them back and forth to an isolated island. Don't most have facilities in locations that do not involve having to build a large piece of transportation infrastructure to reach the shelter?

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as most cities do not have islands so your comparison is silly.

The main point is that there used to be a homeless shelter on the island, part of the City, which provided those without homes shelter. You might of missed the stories on how the shelters than do exist in the city are over capacity? (I'll let you do your own research homework on that). So most of these folks who are dealing with a variety of issues are now on the streets, i.e. the relocation of the same was truly not a success.

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So can't new or expanded shelters be built someplace other than an island, as is the case in every other large city?

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Neighbors are complaining understandably about Southampton street location. I'm not convinced Long Island was a bad location for homeless and people in recovery.

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not Smoot,
or toot,
or yout's,
or MUTE.

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The bridge had been falling apart for years and former Boston mayor Thomas Menino had vowed to rebuild it... --CommonWealth

Really? In his 21 years as the "Urban Mechanic" Menino never got around to fixing or even maintaining the bridge. In fact, it went from bad to worse under his tenure and was officially condemned just after he died.

Menino's pal and fundraiser Jack Connors must have ESP. When he built Camp Menino for "inner city kids" in the early 2000s on Menino's orders, many wondered why the elaborate ferry dock and piers? Clearly, the bridge was doomed by 2006 but the homeless, the addicted and their caretakers were misled for another decade. Open up the Connors/Menino private docks to "inner city adults" and the general public and allow full time access out there.

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I have nothing but disappointment for Walsh's (non)performance, but Menino deserves the blame for this debacle. And if I read the article correctly, the summer camp and other recreation facilities on the island will remain, while the social services/healthcare facilities will sit their and continue to rot. Nothing against the summer camp and recreation facilities, but homeless and addicts could and should be accommodated there too. If you'd can't rebuild the bridge without pissing off the delicate traffic-phobes in Quincy (hey people, I bet the bridge was there before you were), run ferries.

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There is room to create two fully functioning docks for scheduled ferry service. Doing so would still allow for full public health services to be offered, would allow for BHI park visitors, would allow for community/public gardens to continue on the portion of the island that was in use that way, and would allow for the restoration of the buildings but also do it in a way to achieve LEED certification. The park visitors component would be revenue generating, and the ferry service could be scheduled to allow for worker, visitor and resident schedules

The other idea - not for Long Island, but for comprehensive services for people with severe vulnerabilities - is for the city, the state, or a coalition of cities - to lease or purchase abandoned church properties and convert them for use as coop SRO housing, inpatient and day mental health programs and job training coops. On site childcare could use service recipients as paid interns, thus giving them wages, training and a step program toward permanent housing and job advancement.

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So you want the people dealing with mental health issues as well as addiction to take care of the kids at the child care. That seems like it might be asking for trouble...

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that Marty lied about something? Balderdash!

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Besides the fact that the shelter capacity existed there, what was good about putting homeless services way out on an island? It seems like a big inconvenience for the clients, a big expense for the city, and an attempt to sweep the problem under the rug by keeping it far away.

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That was the primary advantage.

In-city shelters boot out their clients every morning, into a streetscape that simply magnifies their issues.

At Long Island, they could stay put during the day and sort things out with a variety of programs.

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What I heard is that you could stay put you wanted to sit around all day enjoying the scenery. But if you wanted to get any services, look for work, etc, you had to wake up at 5 am to be at the front of the line for the bus back to civilization. Otherwise you'd lose most of the day in line for the bus.

It seems much better to have a shelter in walking distance or a quick train ride from downtown.

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I had a friend who preferred Long Island over the other city shelters. I do not think he found it inconvenient, he waited for the bus every day to go there. I think for whatever reason he felt safer there.

He died from his addictions before they closed the shelter.

I also read an article that said that the Long Island shelter had a significant amount of recovery beds that just vanished overnight when they pulled the plug on the shelter so suddenly.

I suppose if the bridge was truly unsafe I get why they closed it, but I'd really like to see them bring it back somehow as a place to help people get their lives together, transitional housing and help people with job skills etc.

We have a very serious public health crisis on our hands with addiction and homelessness.

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opposition by a small part of Quincy should not be a roadblock to this

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But yet it is.

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That bridge was not going to be replaced, no how no way, not now not never, for a long list of reasons. The company line is that all services that were on the island have been replicated and enhanced. As others have noted, the plain in sight evidence downtown and at the intersection of Mass Ave and MCB proves otherwise.

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Can't Millennium Partners help our homeless?

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is building a big new building. I'm sure there's room for a shelter on the 4th or 5th floor.

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How about the state waive the shadow thing and subtract $50 million from the price. In exchange they devote two floors to homeless and addiction treatment.

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The last gold coast in the city of Boston within ten years it will be a gated community for the rich and shameless. Did anyone actually believe that the last bastion of waterfront ocean property would be a refuse for the homeless and addicts.

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You are familiar with all the other islands in the harbor, right? Almost all of which are national parks? And the people who have owned homes on Peddocks for generations are being forced out!

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If you read the article, that pesky municipality to the south of Boston, the one whose permission is needed for a new bridge to be built, yet again stonewalled plans.

I say, just send the junkies to Quincy Center.

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Put a toll on the Quincy/Boston border. Many of the addicts we in Boston have to deal with and pay for are dropped off on us by people from the suburbs.

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You obviously haven't taken the red line to Quincy center train station which has more junkies and sickos that all the downtown stations combined.

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Perhaps if there were someplace in or adjacent to Quincy where social services could be provided in a setting that isolates people from temptations.

And no, I don't go to Quincy Center unless I have to.

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I live in Quincy Center overlooking QC station. You make it sound like QC is East NY Brooklyn or West Baltimore. RIDICULOUS. QC is fine, incredibly convenient, has every kind of store and establishment you could need within a 1 mile radius, and is much more affordable than most of the livable parts of Boston, or God help us, Cambridge/Somerville.

And yes, Quincy is very 'diverse', including socio-economically.

We are in a prime location of a major metro, and because it's also a major transport hub by train, bus, or car from sprawling suburbs on the south shore, and because of everything else I've mentioned, of course there are some homeless, druggies. Many of them are young. Snowflakes have to understand that the word is not Disneyworld and learn to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. People need to grow a spine, a thicker skin and grow up. Finally, violent street crime, including shootings and murders, is a negligible problem here.

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But from my visits to the Quincy Center station, I wouldn't want to dawdle there.

I suppose the same could be said about Forest Hills. Less junkies and more darker skinned high schoolers, but I've never had a problem with the station and environs. Great crossroads.

Still, you're from Quincy, and Quincy is responsible for the deterioration and eventual condemnation of the bridge, so you can pound sand. Quincy sucks.

[the subject of the comment was edited. It was some kind of keyboard diarrhea.]

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Please don't call humans with addictions junkies. Thanks.

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In the 80s I called crackheads junkies.

In the 90s I called those robbing CVSes for Oxycontin junkies.

Today I call heroin addicts junkies.

I may have some sympathy for them, but I will not use nice words to describe bad conditions that people put themselves into. If they get offended by being called junkies, perhaps they should get off the junk. Then I'll call them recovering drug addicts.

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In addition to comments here, you can also send your outrage on to Marty at [email protected] or call
617-635-4500 if you're a phone-person. Just thought I'd put that here to make things a little easier, do what you will.

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Or for the Quincy mayor's office: [email protected] (617) 376-1990

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Unless it involves some kind of sweetheart deal for themselves, they won't do anything. They'll ignore you until you become a problem and then they'll become angry, so very angry at you for trying to stick up for something you believe in.

About Quincy residents blocking the bridge. For those unfamiliar with the second-rate hellhole called Quincy, the neighborhood the traffic goes through to get to Long Island is a lovely little neighborhood called Squantum. Squantum is largely populated by people whose parents and grandparents lived there. They are notoriously resistant to outsiders and protective of their roads. I think their motto is "It didn't used to be like that."

YES, it used to be like that. When I was a kid, we'd go out to Long Island for an annual picnic. It was open to the public and it was awesome.

As a current resident of Quincy, I would love that kind of access to Long Island. As a human being, I want the shelters and services on the island to be restored.

That was rambly but I will contact the Mayor and my City Councilor. For what it's worth, don't bother trying to contact City Council President Kirsten Hughes. She's too busy being very pleased with herself as the head of the Massachusetts Republican Party.

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spends all his time blowing hot air out of his ass. people dying in bathrooms at north station on the reg and this clown cant figure something out? why don't they buy a fucking boat!?!

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Walsh talks a good game, he's got a city hall full of loyalists, plus about half the people in his former legislative district.

But we've seen him operate for 4 years. He's made a lot of bad decisions and doesn't know it or won't admit it.

When he's confronted with criticism, he shifts the blame and sometimes tosses in personal insults This behavior is beneath the dignity of a mayor of a world class city.

The bigger problem is not childish ad hominem (probably because he feels exposed) it's that he doesn't own his mistakes and learn from them.

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Hate to burst your bubble but Boston is far from world class. The Brahmans and nimby's see to that!

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...one of the main reasons he got my vote was his personal history with recovery. He sure talked a good game, but a mayor serious about helping people with addiction issues wouldn't countenance the dead men and women walking at Park Street/Downtown Crossing, BPL/Copley Square, and the gateway to the Newmarket District. Not for one second. It's shameful.

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If I recall correctly from when the bridge was condemned it's not that they can't use boats for transportation, it is the issue of emergency medical services and the inability to get ambulances there that prevents depending on ferry service.

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Any tourist could have a heart attack or a life-threatening fall, or start drowning off the beach of George's Island, Spectacle Island, or any of the other harbor islands. Surely there is a contingency plan involving speedboats for such an eventuality?

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Add it to Georges, Spectacle, Peddocks, etc. islands and serve it with ferries.

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includes Long and Moon Islands. Long is owned by Boston, but it's managed as a part of the park under multiple agency partnership direction. Meetings are open to the public.

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Some prefer not seeing heroin addicts and homeless from their condo or black BMW. Some claim they want the city to spend 100 million on a bridge and shelter infrastructure thus providing the opportunity to attack Walsh for not spending those monies on the "children".

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Whatever the outcome we'll claim the people criticizing Marty always criticize no matter what. That's what Walsh does no matter what, dismiss criticism.

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(Doug Bennett), James Michael Curley or John Phillips. The argument that spending over 100 million on a bridge and building construction to hide heroin addicts on Long Island is specious at best and budgetary incompetence at worst.

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The real estate is simply too valuable.

I take the ferry past it every day and have been thinking about this quite a bit.

You can practically throw a rock from South Boston to Long. 15 minutes max for ferry ride to the financial district. Probably 10 minutes to Seaport. The views are stunning. Sunsets over Boston skyline. It's a gold mine.

I see the City of Boston selling part of it to allow for luxury development and keeping part of it as parkland with limited access. The geography favors this.

Private ferries will be run, for the residents but also to allow for park access. A bridge will be built but access will be limited to residents/ development access. No overnight parking allowed and one or 2 parking spaces per condo would drastically limit traffic thru Squantum.
No busses, no homeless, but resident and services/emergency access. Quincy will get paid off to allow this. And they'll reap all the tax benefits they currently don't.

Raw deal for the needy but what else is new.

BTW, some people don't realize that while LI is wholly owned by the City of Boston the property is in fact in the city of Quincy. Quincy isn't just fighting the rebuilding of the bridge.
They want a say in what uses the land is put to. In this regard the Quincy pols are responding to their constituents. Can't really fault them there, they weren't elected to advocate for Boston's or anyone else's homeless or needy. They also have their own homeless problem.

There is no upside for Quincy to have vans and busses full of homeless driving thru their community. Now getting millions and millions in payments from developers and taxes? They'll go for allowing limited access on a bridge. Squantum residents won't like it but they don't have enough juice to stop it.

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You're thinking about Moon Island, which is in Quincy but is wholly owned by the City of Boston. That's where BPD does firearms training and BFD does fire suppression training. Therefore, if Long Island were redeveloped as you think it will, that's tax money for Boston.

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I was indeed thinking of Moon Island. The perils of 1am posting. Thanks for the clarification.

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Says what he thinks people want to hear, doesn't follow through, little grasp of the complexities of politics? Check. Touted experience in a relatively narrow area (unions) as though it qualified him to govern? Check. Talks like a "regular" guy? Ignores facts that contradict his world view? Got endorsements/got elected mainly because so many people despised his more-qualified opponent? Check, check and check.

Gee, if only we had a newspaper or two in town that could actually hold this guy accountable! Thank goodness for Commonwealth Magazine.

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Yeah, there's some degree of problem with not having all the facilities that used to be available and handy in one place on Long Island.

The bigger problem is the mindset that said "let's gather up all our 'problem' cases and sweep them into an out-of-sight corner of the city like an island" in the first place.

Island containment has/had its uses in immigration processing and medical quarantine (physical contagions) scenarios. Not addiction. Not homelessness.

It's proved by the fact the island ceased to become useful for this purpose once it became an island again. So, all that time it was in operation it was really just an impractical way to get the clients as far away as possible while still in city limits.

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