WSANA Members Fed Up with Vagrant Issues; Neighborhood Has ‘Turned on a Dime’

By Seth Daniel

A large portion of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) was supposed to be devoted to addressing safety in the alleyways of Worcester Square, but that conversation turned into many frustrated residents call for major action.

Residents said it is high time to draw attention to the problems that are inundating the neighborhood due to an overabundance of human services and an opiate epidemic that has settled – many times – on their stoops and gardens in the forms of needles and bodily excrement.

“This neighborhood has turned on a dime,” said Eric Nelson of Worcester Square, who recounted a horrific walk home from his job at Boston Water & Sewer. “I’ve only been here six years. When I first came I had never seen a used drug needle in my life. Now they are everywhere…This is the best block party in the state. They come here because they choose to be here. This is the place to hang out…This isn’t our neighborhood anymore. This is their neighborhood. We are inconveniencing them. I have hit my breaking point, but I can’t move because I sunk my life’s savings into my home.”

Nelson indicated he has had to clean up human feces off his steps several times a week this summer, and frequently has to break up drug deals and open drug usage on his steps.

Nelson’s statement echoed many neighbors in the well-attended meeting on Tuesday who came to chat with D-4 Officer Richard Litto – who many in the neighborhood said they see as their only true champion at the moment.

Litto champions the cause of safety in the alleyways of the South End, and many times meets the problems often encountered by neighbors head on. That is what provoked the heavy discussion on Tuesday, one that is coming up more and more at the Association’s meetings.

Some neighbors said they visit the subject so often because things aren’t getting better despite efforts by the City.

“I’m getting fed up as well,” said Andy Brand, who has championed a ‘Good Neighbor Policy’ as part of the WSANA Safety Committee. “I am about at my breaking point too. Officer Litto is doing everything possible, but he’s one person.”

Litto said, “I’m out there for you. I’m doing whatever I can. I’m a City guy too. I live in South Boston. I’m experiencing a lot of the same things you are.”

Bob Minnocci said closing down Long Island was a bad move for Worcester Square.

“When they decided to move Long Island to the South End that was a death blow,” he said. “That was absolutely the wrong thing to do.”

However, Minnocci and others said they were looking for some ‘next steps,’ and they indicated that they felt they were only getting lip service from Mayor Martin Walsh and other politicians.

Nelson and Minnocci suggested it was time to re-invigorate the Safety Committee and begin applying a full-court pressure to the issue – which they feel has been back-burnered lately.

“I think the Safety Committee needs to be more aggressive like when we stopped the medical marijuana facility on Southampton Street,” he said. “We were all alone in that fight and we were very aggressive.”

Members discussed waging a Twitter war to get the raw truth out about what is happening in their neighborhood, and suggested using the local and Boston media to keep attention on the issue.

All agreed that it is critical that some of the services in the area get moved out of Worcester Square immediately, and not some time in the future.

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