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Boston, Quincy gird for court battle over bridge to Long Island

Martinez answers Flaherty as Osgood listens

Martinez answers Flaherty as Streets and Transportation Chief Chris Osgood listens.

Boston officials say they plan to go to court - and to state environmental officials - to try to overturn a decision by the Quincy Conservation Commission to reject plans for construction of a new bridge to Long Island, where Boston wants to build a new addiction treatment campus.

Boston health and construction officials, meanwhile, are racing to firm up plans for just what sort of facilities to put on Long Island to help grapple with a still growing opioid crisis in which they said Boston is now being flooded by residents of surrounding communities and states because Boston is where the services - and the drugs - are.

City officials spoke at a hearing chaired today by at-large Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George on the bridge.

They got only support from city councilors for Mayor Walsh's plans to spend an estimated $90 million replacing the bridge, shut four years ago, to connect to a new state-of-the-art treatment campus that could ultimately include everything from short-term drug detox programs to long-term residential treatment to help people not just kick their habits but get ready for life on the outside again.

City officials have set what they called an "aggressive" schedule to replace the bridge over two years - starting with bid solicitation next year and using most of the support piers that still remain from the old bridge.

The new bridge would have one lane in each direction, along with sidewalks and a system to treat rain runoff before it goes into the harbor. After Quincy vowed to ban trucks on the road leading to where the bridge used to be, Boston said portions of the 3,300-foot span would instead be built onshore and floated on barges to the site for construction.

But City Councilor Michael Flaherty criticized officials for not yet having specifics on what sort of services and buildings the island would have, how many people they would treat or, really, much of anything having to do with the island itself, rather than the bridge - save for an announcement to not use the island for a homeless shelter again.

"We're in a fight with Quincy," Flaherty said. "We're going to look pretty stupid if we can't even answer basic questions. ... We're just going to go 'hummina, hummina, hummina."

City Councilor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan) said his counterparts in Quincy are looking at allocating $250,000 to fight the bridge, atop whatever they've already spent on legal bills.

Marty Martinez, Walsh's health and human services chief, acknowledged Flaherty's criticisms, but said he would rather spend the time to figure out a long-term plan that will truly help addicts become healthy. And designing that sort of complex, he said, is simply going to take some time, even with what he said was an "all hands on deck" approach in Boston city government to the problem - which he said has claimed he said 1,000 lives since 2013.

He said the city tomorrow will also Boston neighborhood associations and residents to submit their advice and concerns. And he said the city needs to be careful to design a center that can handle whatever future drug epidemics might hit us.

Boston Public Facilities Director Trisha Lyons said she hopes to have a study done by the end of this year on the state of the current buildings and facilities on the island - to see which ones can be re-used and which need to be bulldozed.

Martinez agreed to a request from Flaherty to try to gauge just how many people who now congregate at "Mass and Cass" - the methadone mile centered on the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard - come from which specific suburban towns. Martinez said he knows that more than half the addicts there now come from outside Boston, but Flaherty said he specifically wants to know how many come from Quincy and more specifically from Squantum and Hough's Neck, the two Quincy neighborhoods through which the road to the old Long Island Bridge goes.

Even as they talked about the ideas of creating a new model for addiction treatment, officials kept having to return to the issue of Quincy's opposition to the bridge - and possible ways to convince surrounding communities and even employers to help kick in for what is a regional problem.

Sue Sullivan, director of a business association in Newmarket Square, which has been particularly hard hit by the epidemic, said lived for seven years in Quincy on the road to the bridge when it was open and said there was absolutely no impact on her or her neighbors.

"It's sort of NIMBYism at its worse," especially because Boston is now paying to care for so many addicts from elsewhere, City Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain/West Roxbury) said.

City Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester) suggested an education campaign to show surrounding communities that a new regional center on Long Island would help their residents as much as Bostonians - because it's not just Bostonians flocking to Mass and Cass.

Martinez added that existing programs that continue to operate on the island - Camp Harborview and a b.Good farm - would remain. In response to a query from at-large Councilor Michelle Wu, he said city officials, at least right now, are not looking at any private development on the island.

Neighborhoods: 

Comments

Have the state seize the land, build the damn bridge, and sell it back to Boston for the cost of construction.

Also start sending Quincy the bill for every homeless person and addict they've deported to Boston because Quincy is too cheap to help its own people.

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Voting closed 68

Long Island already owned by the city of Boston.

Quincy owns the peninsula the mainland side of the bridge would be built on; any access to the bridge goes through a densely settled residential neighborhood with water views. You get the picture.

$100 million for the bridge and buses to access it is about 10x the cost of a big dock on the island that could accommodate more traffic than buses. And the ferries wouldn't bother the neighbors.

The $90 million saved could go to a bigger treatment center or more extensive addiction treatment.

It's tough to figure out why the Council is so fixated on a bridge when they could get more addicts treated via boats.

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Voting closed 26

Boats can't run in bad weather if there's a medical emergency.

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Think of the medical facilities they will have on the island when they have a large treatment center there. It will have to be pretty severe, like something that requires immediate surgery, to have to move the person off the island into a hospital like BMC. I don't think that happens often enough to preclude boats as the main transportation method.

It's not very often, even with the crazy weather we've been having the past couple of years, that a boat can't navigate through the harbor. If they had a true emergency, they can call the Coast Guard. Those guys handle heavy North Atlantic storms. I'm sure they can make their way to Long Island.

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Voting closed 14

So no one gets treatment because of a problem that might occur.

How many medical emergencies have been caused by this obsession over preventing one from taking a bit to long to respond to?

I guess when addicts die in the street, at least they weren't at risk of 9-1-1 taking too long.

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Voting closed 17

It's tough to figure out why the Council is so fixated on a bridge when they could get more addicts treated via boats.

Then why don't you pencil that out and give them a quote for the services?

You don't think anyone has thought of that?

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Voting closed 23

You don't think anyone has thought of that?

When I suggest ferries here on Uhub, people say "Pish, posh, and what about emergencies?" and then go right back to trying to build a $100 million bridge. People reject the ferry idea, right out of the box, and they shouldn't.

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Voting closed 17

It wouldn't just be a ferry.

It would be supplies.

It would be personnel.

It would be operating expenses. NOT cheap!

It would be ice breakers.

Think about it past "building a ferry dock"

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Voting closed 8

And a bridge is...

Maintenance (salting, sanding, repainting lines, repaving, ...)

Supplies for the above

Personnel to do the above

Periodic inspections

Think about it past "building a bridge"

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Someone dropped a lit cigarette in the trashcan, and now the shelter is ablaze, flames billowing out the windows of the top floor. The fire department has been called! Here they come to pull out survivors and extinguish the blaze! Except the trucks don't fit onto the ferry, which by the way will be back at the dock in 20 minutes.

If you're going to build permanent infrastructure, you have to have access for emergency services. This isn't a pie-in-the-sky ideal, it's the way building codes and civil society work.

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isnt there a fire station on the island?

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Despite the general "carry in, carry out" policy, the restrooms and snack bars still have trash bins.

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I think the parent post is getting at eminent domain issues. If the State owned the land, they can just tell Quincy what they're going to do and be done with it, Quincy being a political subdivision of the State and all. Boston can't OTOH tell another political subdivision what to do.

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Quincy has a homeless shelter, Father Bill's and there are detox centers on just about every 3rd street in Quincy.

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Voting closed 19

Quincy has Father Bill's and detox centers and treatment centers. It is not deporting its homeless to Boston so it doesn't have to take care of them. Do people think all of the homeless in Quincy are from Quincy or maybe, just maybe, are some of them from Boston and other cities/towns?

Anecdotal source: My brother, who lives in a lovely suburb about a half hour away from Quincy, goes to addiction treatment at a place in Quincy because that's the closest treatment center his doctor recommends.

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Similar anecdote here: My old boss had a nephew who had to go to rehab, and he actually had to move to Quincy to live in the rehab center. Was originally from a suburb in north of Boston. Not quite sure you can pin the problems on Quincy here.

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Building that ferry terminal is starting to look better and better....

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Use purpose made ferries. Use air ambulance in medical emergencies.

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I read that insurance will not pay if an ambulance can't get there by land, so the ferry idea - which is great - won't work.

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Don't people occasionally break legs, have heart attacks, react allergically to bee stings, etc. on the harbor islands now? Not to mention the occasional lifeguard rescue.

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So the city is being forced to build a $90M bridge due to concerns over first responders ultimately due to concerns over parasitic private insurance cartels refusing to pay out?

Insurance is regulated by the state. Maybe a new $90M tax on these parasites will cause them to rethink these policies.

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As much as I support the bridge, there has to be a more effective design if the city is going to use almost $100M for a bridge. Plus even more for the facility

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Meanwhile back at the two rows of trees they call a multi-million dollar park in Quincy Center, Mayor Koch just asked for $250,000 to fight some future appeal that might happen if someone (I don't know/care who) overturns something-something Quincy said. This is on top of the $150,000 Quincy has already spent on this mishegas.

That money could be better spent on oh, I don't know, the traffic problem?

Quincy needs to cut the best deal the can with Boston and get on with it already. Does anyone think that ultimately there will not be a bridge?

Edited to add:

Flaherty said he specifically wants to know how many come from Quincy and more specifically from Squantum and Hough's Neck, the two Quincy neighborhoods through which the road to the old Long Island Bridge goes.

Hummina, hummina, hummina indeed, Councilor Flaherty. Hough's Neck isn't anywhere near the bridge.

The only non-Squantum neighborhood that's near there is Marina Bay and I don't think they care either way.

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And they have detox centers and a homeless shelter in Quincy as well.

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I realize there are already various commercial treatment services in the satellite cities... such as downtown Lynn and Lowell. But maybe the answer is to augment those with more of the same, but state run too. I see a lot of empty lots in Quincy Center. But unfortunately, even spreading them out just makes those various areas appear seedy and make development in the areas difficult. I think the real battle is going to be more long term - stopping the pharmaceutical flow of opiods - and the illegal forms such as heroin and fentanyl. Somehow...

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What is the number one thing that keeps recovering addicts/homeless from relapse? A job. Exiling them to Lowell and Lynn makes that very difficult. The jobs are in and around Boston. Build the damn bridge.

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That's why you don't ship people from Boston area to places which already need that treatment capacity.

Absurd suggestion, really. Yes, treatment capacity outside Boston is needed ... but we can't export to those places.

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Quincy is trying to remake itself into the trendy place to go for restaurants and entertainment. (I'll wait until you stop laughing - no worries.)

What with the multi-million dollar park in Quincy Center and the rerouting of Hancock Streeet, the Quincy 2000 plan is finally coming together. Quincy is even getting a vegan brewery! Take that Somerville!

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at least for pedestrians and bicycles, and perhaps a bus shuttle from a public parking lot in Squantum. Long Island should be treated as part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park, with full public access.

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The island isn't a park (though it is part of the recreation area).

There is a derelict hospital there. Yeah, the Shutter Island one. You don't want people getting their darned fool bodies cut and bruised messing around the ruins.

If you want to turn it into a park, you should probably not put an addiction recovery center smack dab in the middle of it.

I don't think a park can coexist with the rehab facility. If you want to get a $100m bridge built to a park that can only be accessed by biking 10 miles south of the boston city limits, you should talk to the council.

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Squantum Point is only about 2.5 miles from Neponset Circle in Dorchester. And the derelict hospital scenes in Shutter Island were filmed at Medfield State Hospital and Peddocks Island, both of which are open for the public to injure themselves in.

But you're right that the addiction services on Long Island shouldn't be mixed up with a park, because it would only be a matter of time before park-goers start complaining.

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has plenty of places where people can hurt themselves if they don't pay attention to signs, or climb up to places that aren't safe to be. But we let people take those risks.

Someone already mentioned Peddocks Island. And there are defunct military structures on other islands that are open to the public.

As for recovery services next to a park, don't we already have Shattuck State Hospital in Franklin Park?

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smack dealers can bike right on in and ply their wares to the addicts walking around on lunch break, all under the guise of "enjoying the public park." It's perfect since there's no way Boston will pay for extra law enforcement to patrol for such a thing. Captive audience baby!
While we're at it we should open a day care center on the ground floor of a pedophile recovery support group meeting house. IT ALL MAKES SO MUCH SENSE.

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Cyclists = Drug Dealers?

Wow. Such a fevered imagination.

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That sort of defeats the purpose, as the reason these treatment centers were put on this island is to isolate the people getting treatment (to keep them away from bad influences/interactions that interfere with effective treatment). If the island just ends up being open to the public, they might as well just put the treatment centers anywhere.

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how many come from Quincy and more specifically from Squantum and Hough's Neck, the two Quincy neighborhoods through which the road to the old Long Island Bridge goes.
The road to the old Long Island Bridge does not go through Hough’s Neck.

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And designing that sort of complex, he said, is simply going to take some time, even with what he said was an "all hands on deck" approach in Boston city government to the problem - which he said has claimed he said 1,000 lives since 2013.

He said the city tomorrow will also Boston neighborhood associations and residents to submit their advice and concerns. And he said the city needs to be careful to design a center that can handle whatever future drug epidemics might hit us.

I have no idea what is going on in that emphasized section there.

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1). Martinez was trying to show just how bad the opioid epidemic has become in Boston. As proof, he said 1,000 people have died from overdoses in Boston since 2013.

2). Martinez said that because the epidemic has effects across the city, he wants to hear from people directly affected by it, which includes not just addicts and their families, but people who live in the city's neighborhoods (think needles everywhere, for one thing). So the city is going to be asking people - through neighborhood associations - for their suggestions on what to do about the problem in their specific neighborhoods.

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