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Boston hands over Long Island farm that used to benefit the homeless to fast-food chain

The Globe reports:

The decision to allow the b.good restaurant chain to take over Boston’s only city-owned farm - at no cost, and without seeking other proposals - has enraged its former managers, who view the new arrangement as a violation of the public trust and a waste of scarce urban community farmland.

Also: City no longer committed to re-opening the bridge.

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Comments

Whatever went down, and I doubt we'll ever be told the truth, it falls squarely in the lap of Marty Walsh. It's another stupid idea that he and his admin alone are responsible for.

If no one runs against Walsh, he wins by default.

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b.good looking for volunteers to grow its food (OK, 75% of the food will go to the camp that, for now, is still on the island as well).

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disappointment after disappointment. what next?

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I've lived on Reading Street, right on the "Methadone Mile" for 12 years. The methadone clinics and the homeless shelters and recovery services in the area were all there before I moved in, so of course I've seen some things in my time living there. But the last two years, since the closing of the Long Island bridge, have been absolute chaos. The area has turned into an open air drug market and people shoot heroin openly in front of pedestrians. I've personally seen 4 people suffer an opioid overdose within view of my house in the last month and saved only by the quick administration of Narcan, thanks to our neighbors at Hope House. In addition to the farm, the Long Island facility helped provide a buffer between active addicts, those in recovery, and the general homeless population. The abandonment of these programs and facilities has led directly to an increase in human suffering, and resulted in public money being spent less effectively than it was before. The idea that a private company will now profit from this situation is beyond infuriating. Marty has literally given away the farm.

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CBBL, hit's the nail right on the head.

The Long island shelter/human service complex was a simple, effective system that served both the clients and the public well. The fact that there has been little effort expended on fixing something that actually worked well on many levels and dumping the homeless downtown is simply outrageous.

Like the political leaders who let the MBTA and Commuter rail deteriorate into the decrepit, rusty shell of it's former self. Those who gave up on the most vulnerable, most damaged human beings to fend for themselves are simply contemptible.

Boston, and Massachusetts are not struggling rust belt cities in the mid-west, but supposedly an educated, progressive people. We have done better in the past, and we can do better now. The question is do we want to?

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The homeless are not going back to the island the real estate is to valuable. Boston is becoming a city of the rich and the homeless population will be evicted. Once a year all the rich phonies will feed the homeless on thanksgiving and get their photos on facebook to show what great citizens they are.

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I believe it is already there, unfortunately.

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Clearly you've never ordered from b good because their service is the antithesis of fast

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I recently volunteered at the Red Cross food pantry in Mass. Ave and was embarrassed to hand out rotten produce to some homeless and poor children. No wonder they are undernourashed. I think some of the produce was unsellable . Bags of mushy onions and kale that was yellowed with black spots. I think all the walkers from the Walk for Hunger would be doubly pissed. Too bad some more land couldn't be set aside for poor families to tend to their own veggie gardens.

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Disgusted yet unsurprised.

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I kind of am surprised. Not that One Term Mahty did it, but that he was so stupid about it. Two members of his administration are under indictment, and he didn't even pretend to take bids! What's more, if the city doesn't rebuild the bridge, how are the developers going to get all those granite countertops over there?

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“This is extremely upsetting and concerning,” said Sara Riegler, the farm’s assistant manager, who lost her job after it closed. “This was clearly a backdoor deal, or the city would have had multiple proposals.”

I loathe him with the power of a million suns, frightening that he may win re-election if no one opposes him.
http://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2016/07/21/boston-mayoral-race-2017-tom-...

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Hillary will take him off our hands? He is speaking at the DNC tonight, so could be seeing Presidential appointment in his future?

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I could see that being a good job for Marty.

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When the bridge closed it was said that a ferry to the island to replace the bridge wouldn't be possible as it wouldn't be fast enough for emergencies.

Presumably the farm workers are arriving via boat. Why is it OK for one group to have boat-only access but not another?

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One is a farm worker while the other is a medical patient. Also, why is city government involved in the agricultural industry?

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Boston owns a farm because one of the functions of city government is to help people. The farm raised produce and eggs that helped feed the people who stayed in Long Island's shelters - and some went to farmer's markets in neighborhoods where people could benefit from cheaper, nutritious food.

To call it part of the "agriculture industry" is a bit of a stretch. One might just as easily ask why the city is letting a private for-profit company do what it wants to land that our tax dollars paid for.

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Our farm is expected to yield over 80,000 pounds of produce annually and 75% of our crop will go directly back to our community. (Since three-quarters of the crop will benefit a summer camp on the island for at-risk youth, our farm will help kids. We’ll feed them and connect them to real food by teaching gardening and urban farming.)

from http://www.bgood.com/hannahfarm/

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You're using first-person plural, so I guess you want us to believe that you are commenting as a member of the corporate b.good family. Please register an account with contact info if you're legit.

But geting back to the specifics of your comment:

That farm land was already being used to support Bostonians in need (both through harvest and jobs programs).

The claim that three-quarters of the harvest will "go directly back to our(sic) community", and implication that this will be via Camp Harbor View - is going to be a very difficult pledge to fulfill, given that camp season ends before the main harvest season begins.

From here, it looks like you're not doing anything that wasn't already being done and done more profoundly by non-profit groups - except you're taking an explicit 25% cut (and I suspect very much more) and providing political cover for those seeking to move high value land out of public hands and into private.

You (ie your bosses) are either unknowing patsies or willing accomplices in a land grab.

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I'd reckon this is the camp director posting here. Pure speculation however on my part.

Your post is spot on in terms of the handover. I'm less convinced that the best use of Long Island isn't actually some degree of privatization but in exchange for lots and lots of money on the open market, not for free behind closed doors.

EDIT - this seems to be a b.gooder above not the camp director who was on twitter simply defending the idea of fresh food for campers, which is more positive. She was still very blasé about the hand-over of public property to a private company, but then she appears to not be a Boston resident either.

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How much will a new bridge cost? $200 million? It's a long bridge over corrosive salt water.

For the same money you can have decades of staff consisting of a few officers and nurses available for emergency response on-site.

It's not as if farm workers don't get hurt and won't need medical attention ASAP so the inability to drive an ambulance across the bridge isn't a reason to keep the island closed.

Regardless, it seems Marty is pulling a page from the conservative playbook by transfering public property to the private sector for corporate gain. Should Trump, Cruz, etc get elected look forward to visiting Six Flags Acadia National Park and the Disney Seashore.

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If we were going to spend a ton to rebuild a bridge between Moon and Long Islands anyway, maybe it's time to reconsider this ambitious plan to build a multipurpose seawall using the harbor islands. You get:

1) A bridge to Long Island again
2) A greatly expanded seaport
3) With direct underground tunnel highway access
4) And this means ships dock further from the city, reducing the risk of terrorism
5) Without the need to do all that new dredging
6) With the ability to reclaim the Conley land as much-needed residential housing space very close to the core of the city
7) And the main part of the project - major protection of the entire city from storm surges such as what Hurricane Sandy did to NYC, which will be increasing dramatically in number as the climate continues to intensify, and without having to build too much new land

IMAGE(http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Third_Party_Photo/2010/06/04/SEA__1275665801_6760.jpg)

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Unless there was some serious wall building once onto land, that structure would be flanked at Rumney Marsh on the North and the Fore River in Quincy to the south. It doesn't help to build a wall across the harbor that only shoots water in around the edges. It might protect Boston some, but at what cost? Both money cost to build it and destruction of surrounding areas?

The MA coastline is way too flat and has too many inlets to work. It would deflect the main force of a surge - but only if it came straight in.

Adaptation and resilient building codes are a far better bet in the next century.

As for climate projections, I recommend two sources:
ClimateReady Boston, which is also doing neighborhood programs during July: http://climateready.boston.gov/findings

MassDOT: https://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/8/docs/environmental/Sustainabil...

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Yes, a marsh to the north would still surge with water, as would some outlying suburban areas near rivers. But seawall plans like this aren't supposed to permanently stop water level increases over geological time; they are so that the most sensitive, heavily urban areas with large amounts of subterranean infrastructure (and people) aren't so severely damaged by freak powerful storms that it takes weeks or months to recover, like NYC. It's like shuttering a window, not bricking it up.

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Look at SurgingSeas: http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/

Neat idea, HELLISH expensive, and does not even solve the intended problem!

This is not appropriate design - Boston is not in a fjord like NYC is, it would be extremely expensive, it would destroy the habitats of the harbor islands, and it wouldn't even work.

I do this for a living now - just read the DOT vulnerability planning work to see why this is problematic from a "solve problem" standpoint alone, let alone for all the other reasons it is daft.

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This plan is batshit crazy in the same charmingly quaint way as the plans for Boston Expo '76.
IMAGE(http://www.mascontext.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/18_futures_expo_boston_76_27.jpg)

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IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/FkBqUlT.jpg)

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Not recently, though. The South Bay was the last major landmaking project in Boston, and it seems unlikely that we're going to start again soon.

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work skills, life skills, rehabilitation. Wouldn't exactly call it 'agricultural industry'. Other cities have similar programs.

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Because it's easier to evacuate 5 people during the day than it is to evacuate 700 people in the dark.

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Marty is a typical Masshole politician who assumes because he has the supermajority (D) next to his name he can do wrong and not be fired for it at the polls. I hope a real alternative runs against him and that voters prove that arrogant assumption false.

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There are so many corrupt former somethings (venture capitalists, former startup execs, etc) like Jack Connors who conflate philanthropy with making a profit for their friends who have just figured out local food is a thing. Get in good with these guys and your "local food" startup will get the benefit of all sorts of backroom deals. What do you think keeps the Boston Public Market afloat, actual customers?

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... the land was just sitting there unused, no one had any plans to do something with it over the next year or so, some restaurant said "hey, we'll farm it and in return give back a big chunk of the produce, maybe it'll be fun?", and then in a year and a half the city can evaluate what it wants to do with the land. And yet some how this is, like, oppressing homeless people and represents just the WORST corruption on the part of the mayor, or something?

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Or a month and a half.

It's city land that should not be dealt to friends of the mayor just to 'see how it goes'.

People have a right to be angry, and transparency through an open bidding process would have avoided this.

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No, it matters because the folks quoted in the story (e.g. ReVision, the original farm manager) WANTED to farm it and were told they couldn't, then the city turned around and non-competitively awarded free use to a private company.

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Who was going to pay for them getting to the island?

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It's not Siberia, I think it's pretty easy for them to get over there if there's an entire summer camp going over on a daily basis.

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As Adam said it best: " One might just as easily ask why the city is letting a private for-profit company do what it wants to land that our tax dollars paid for."

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....with our politicians, not with b.Good*.

They saw an opportunity, and are going for it. Although I have no doubt it might be profitable, it does seem like some Community good will come out of it as well as kids get to learn about farming and eat some veggies.

Here are the concerns I see:
- Why weren't the former farmers given a similar chance when they asked? Was it because they weren't "in" with Connors?
- When Connors suggested it, why didn't someone say, "Hey, great idea, let's bid it out!"
- Why isn't there any disclosure if Connors is an investor with B.Good?

* As a disclosure, I like B.Good and probably eat there once or twice per month, but I have no other relationship with them. I also thought this was a great idea on the surface, until I learned about others trying to farm there and not being allowed to.

I also think the city was bananas when they evacuated within minutes, leaving patients without medicine and crops rotting on the vine. And oh yeah, making more of a shambles of methadone mile.

All of this is your mayor and his cronies at work. It's not the fault of the restaurant, any more than the Olypics debacle is the fault of the athletes.

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Reprinted in full from here, because it seems not to be showing up for non-Facebook users:

Like many others, we are angry to see that Mayor Walsh has handed over public land on Long Island that had previously been utilized by the Serving Ourselves Farm, providing employment skills to people experiencing homelessness and fresh produce to homeless programs, to a private company. The notion that others weren't interested in farming on this property is false. The Serving Ourselves farmers were forced off the island along with everyone else during the evacuation in October of 2014 and they couldn't continue farming there. At minimum this deal should have been done through a transparent and public process, involving the Serving Ourselves Farm and benefitting people experiencing homelessness in Boston through the restoration of a program that has yet to be replaced from Long Island nearly two years later. What ultimately should have been done, and still can be done, is for Mayor Walsh to take Jack Connors up on his initial offer of funding 5 years of ferry service to Long Island for the recovery programs with access to one of the city's ambulance boats along with the full restoration of the Serving Ourselves Farm.

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I believe the land was leased to Camp Harborview under the agreement that Connors et al would finance the building and operation of the camp. It seems like Connors has done more than his share funding the camp. BGood is a sponsor of the camp and as the article states. I'm sure Connors pitched the idea to Walsh or put the sides together. Connors didn't tear down the bridge and doesn't seem to profit from the camp so not sure why people are upset with him. Yes Bgood will use the food in its restaurants, but how long do you think a bidding process would have taken?

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It seemed ODD, at least out of Tom Sawyer, that b.good was advertising for volunteers to come and work http://www.bgood.com/hannahfarm/ on their "farm."

Ok, 75% of the crop will "go back to the community" since it "will benefit a summer camp on the island" the ad said.

Now, if I order something with kale or vegetables at b.good, I won't be reading the names of independent farmers on the chalk board. While I wait for my food, I will be thinking of those who lost their jobs working the Long Island farm and of all the money Jack Connors spends on shuttling children to the island instead of sending them to other camps.

Second thought, not that it's there fault, but I don't think I will eat at b.good for awhile.

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I read the article today and didn't see anything where the City is not going to rebuild the bridge. The bridge part of the story was the same old same old since the bridge was closed. In short, they didn't say that would rebuild, but they also didn't say that they will not rebuild.

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When the bridge was first shut, Walsh was pretty insistent he'd rebuild the bridge to re-open Long Island, even as some people began to wonder whether it might make more sense to plow the $90 million cost into actual services/buildings in the city itself. Now the city's gone to considering the "cost effectiveness" of rebuilding the bridge, so it seems like City Hall is slowly shifting towards not rebuilding it.

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Since when can the city bulldoze anything through the BHI National and State Park?

If Walsh shoves this through, I think the NPS and DCR might want to have a word. And this is the NPS centennial plus the BHI 20th. The timing is just perfect.

When Marty opened his DNC remarks today, he said, "My name is Marty Walsh and I'm an alcoholic."

I think the man sees everything through his lens of needing to hit "rock bottom". Unfortunately, he's the one doing the digging.

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Does picking on a guy for being a recovering alcoholic make you feel better somehow?

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I think it's disgusting how he tries to make political hay off his personal addiction narrative, while his administration presides over the complete disassembly of Boston's support network for addiction and homelessness. The Long Island closure is a continuing slow-motion disaster, and if Mayor Walsh had a shred of decency, he would resign.

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It is indeed I who was petty and, well, not quite mean but close. But this is assuming that I misread what the guy above wrote and he indeed did begin his remarks as such.

As for blaming Walsh for this mess, if you think he should resign for being stuck with rebuilding a bridge his predecessor let rot over the decades, I'm just going to assume that you think that Thomas M. Menino was the worst mayor the city has ever had.

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... by his handling of the closure and his utter failure to adequately ameliorate the effects of the closure -- in two years.

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