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A solution to the Mass & Cass problem is within reach

Melvin B. Miller
A solution to the Mass & Cass problem is within reach
“I just hope they’re not planning to move Mass and Cass to this neighborhood.”

From the Roxbury perspective, the most challenging issue facing Boston’s new administration is the satisfactory resolution of the Mass and Cass problem. Understandably, no one wants homeless addicts in their neighborhood. The public repugnance to the problem is so profound that few seem to realize there is an already existing solution.

Over the years, the City of Boston has established Boston Public Health Commission facilities on Long Island in Boston Harbor. It was easily accessible but patients there could not wander off into the general residential population. The 225-acre facility contained all that was necessary for patients to recover.

It took simply a drive along the Squantum Peninsula in Quincy to the Moon Island causeway. Then a two-lane steel bridge called the Long Island Viaduct would take the driver to Long Island. It is a short trip of a bit more than a half-mile. Unfortunately, the bridge became dangerously deteriorated. Mayor Martin Walsh ordered the bridge to be demolished on March 3, 2015, so now Long Island cannot easily be reached.

Efforts to replace the bridge have run into objections from the city of Quincy to construction vehicles on the road. This is such an unusual prohibition, one wonders about the real basis for the restriction. The Squantum road is not always so heavily travelled that such an unusual restriction would be permitted to survive a legal challenge.

Even so, it would be more financially economical for the city to arrange for the lease of a ferry to transport passengers the short distance between Moon Island and Long Island. Food and various supplies could be brought in the same way that Martha’s Vineyard gets provisions.

Ronald Mariano, a long-term Democrat, is speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and represents Quincy. We would expect Mariano and Mayor Wu to be able to resolve the restriction on Quincy roads without having to resort to litigation.

The use of the Roundhouse hotel is a distinctively bad idea. The addicts and the homeless ruined two businesses in the area, the hotel and the drugstore at Albany Street and Mass Ave. Those guilty of destructive behavior ought not benefit from their own misconduct.

Black supporters of Wu in the election have apparently not seen to it that she has a solution to the Mass and Cass problem that does not impose, as usual, on the tolerance and acceptance of Blacks. Mayor Wu should do everything to make the Long Island facility function again.   

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