By Seth Daniel
As the debate continues to rage over how to best handle the opiate problem at Ground Zero in the South End, this week District 2 Council Candidate Ed Flynn called for a re-opening of the Long Island Shelter – as well as all of its former services.
“I want to work on these addiction issues as a city councilor,” he said this week. “One thing I am calling for is a re-opening of Long Island Shelter. I think Mayor Walsh did a very good job of dealing with a very difficult situation…What I would like to do is come up with a plan that includes a proposal by some community members for Shattuck Hospital to play a big role in this because it is state-owned and this is a statewide issue…I think we also need to look at re-opening Long Island.”
Flynn joins Councilor Frank Baker in calling for the discussion of opening the old Shelter, which was closed three years ago when the bridge accessing the island was condemned.
That does come in contract to Mayor Martin Walsh, who said at the South End Coffee Hour last month that opening the shelter isn’t the answer. However, his administration hasn’t ruled it out yet. Many in the South End have asked that that the Shattuck Hospital in Franklin Park be considered for use as a Recovery Campus, and others are also interested in seeing Long Island returned.
Flynn has been a probation officer at Suffolk Superior Court since 2008, and works in particular with the homeless and veteran population. He said he was routinely out on the Island to visit probationers and said it provided critical programming.
“I would want the services that were there to come back,” he said.
He also is calling for Boston Medical Center and Boston Public Health Commission to take a leading role in providing additional services on the Island in a new partnership with the City.
“I would ask them to also play a big role in providing comprehensive medical care and mental health counseling on the Island,” he said.
Getting there has been all the battle in the conversation, and when the bridge was closed to vehicles, the decision was made to shut down the Shelter.
However, Flynn said he would call for ferries to the Island as an interim step while the Bridge is being reconstructed. A shuttle service from Boston Medical Center would take participants to the waterfront to get the shuttle.
Flynn’s plan details use of linkage funds from development, Community Preservation Act (CPA) resources, and public-private-non-profit partnerships to fund recovery services and patient transportation.
He said facilities on Long Island will be upgraded significantly before services can begin. Linkage for new developments will be used to allow the Boston Public Health Commission to float bonds to finance the reconstruction of Long Island’s facilities.
Other funding sources include:
- The city will create a PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) program similar to those used for hospitals and medical schools, which currently do not pay real estate taxes in Boston.
- Linkage funds for new developments will be used to allow the Boston Public Health Commission to float bonds to finance the reconstruction of Long Island’s facilities.
- Transportation to and from Long Island will be partially funded by the City’s Parking Meter Fund.
- A shuttle service is approximately $2-3 million annually, while the cost of a bridge would be approximately $150 million. This plan will save tax payers money and provide a much needed service.