Mayor’s Office Hopes to Create Something Special on Long Island for Recovery:Replacement of Bridge Could Take Several Years

By Seth Daniel

The City’s administration is currently beginning to think about what a recovery campus on Long Island would look like, as the permitting and fighting over the Long Island Bridge replacement begins to start.

In the wake of the big news that Mayor Martin Walsh committed to re-build the Long Island Bridge and create a full recovery campus on the island, Jen Tracey of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services appeared at the South End Forum on Tuesday to discuss the follow up since the surprising announcement at the Jan. 1 Inaugural Address.

“It was big news and news the mayor purposely did not announce during the election because he doesn’t want it to be about the election,” she said. “We really are just starting the process of thinking about the programmatic part and permitting for the bridge. At this point, we are in a different place than we were three years ago when the bridge closed…The experience here has taught us volumes about the gaps in services. The vision is to create a state-of-the-art campus that is forward thinking…We have a lot of high hopes about what we could do with that space on Long Island.”

Tracey did acknowledge that they believe building the bridge will take four years between permitting, working things out with the City of Quincy (which opposes the bridge and hosts the entrance of the bridge) and constructing it.

“That’s all part of the planning process,” she said. “Certainly a bridge that size with permitting will be a couple of years. That gives us time right now to think about what we want there. This won’t be a shelter. The vision is a recovery campus. We have people in Boston who send their loved ones out of state to get the continuum of service. We don’t’ have anything like that in Boston now.”

The South End Forum has had a Working Group on opiates and recovery for the last 18 months – and it is an innovative group that has met monthly around a table with Tracey, other City officials, businesses, residents and service providers.

At the Working Group, many had long given up on Long Island.

Instead, they had been focused on trying to create a recovery campus with a “continuum of care” at Shattuck Hospital in Franklin Park, Jamaica Plain.

The news was greeted with excitement by most at the Forum.

“We see this as very good news,” said Fox. “We had been working on Shattuck Hospital (with the state). That came about because we didn’t think Long Island would be an option.”

Sue Sullivan of Newmarket Business Association said there has been talk that businesses and residents just want to push the problem away from them. She said that is an uninformed opinion.

“Anyone who says the community wants them out of sight, out of mind hasn’t been here the last three or four years listening to us,” she said. “We know what doesn’t work. What doesn’t work is people walking around in oncoming traffic.”

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