More complaints have surfaced about drug use and trash left behind in Charlesgate Park.
George Lewis Jr, of the Charlesgate Alliance said he was out walking his dogs on Feb. 28 when he noticed a large amount of trash and needles in the park. In the past, the area has been cleaned up by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), as well as several area groups who have shown interest in keeping the park clean, including the Charlesgate Alliance.
Early last fall, issues with encampments in the park were a huge cause of concern for residents in the area, but DCR, Boston Police, and the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development worked with the residents to clean the area up.
But once people are asked to vacate a certain area, they often wind up back there again, leaving trash and other messes, Lewis said.
Lewis said that the area under the ramp coming off the Bowker overpass onto Commonwealth Avenue has become a “local shooting gallery” with needles and trash, and a couple who has set up camp in the area recently.
“We’re trying to focus on the drug aspect of this,” Lewis said. “Nobody really has a problem with these people camping for the night,” he said, but when they start leaving needles everywhere it becomes a hazard for the surrounding community. “These guys leave trash everywhere,” he said. “The needles are the real problem.”
Lewis said that a cleanup was recently held for the area on Feb. 8, and volunteers almost filled a dumpster with trash they found laying on the ground.
“It’s DCR property, but even this district has way too much area to cover,” Lewis said. He added that despite this, the DCR has been responsive when he has reached out with complaints like this. He said that on March 4, a team from DCR came to Charlesgate Park to clean up the encampment and the “associated mess inside the granite wall on the Beacon Street side along the Muddy River bank.”
He said that a tent was on fire inside the park this morning, and a hazmat team is supposed to come back to clean up some more. Additionally, Lewis said he saw some of the cleanup work being done by another homeless individual who gathered trash to place in a bin.
Lewis said he is continuing to work with Jim Greene of the Department of Neighborhood Development on this issue, and he hopes to bring attention to the problem and get more people involved in the neighborhood.
He said that people should continue to call 311, the state police, and 911 to make any issues known to as many people who can help as possible and to be proactive.
“My concern is it’s not even warm yet—how many more people are going to show up?” Lewis said. “These guys have been there a long time.” He added that the individuals have leveled out the ground, stolen fake leaves from construction sites, and stolen bicycles that they have left behind in the park.
“It would be nice if there was a regular cleanup by the DCR,” he said. He said that hopefully after the dog park and the playground that are proposed for Charlesgate Park become a reality, these issues will become less prevalent and there won’t be as many places for people to set up camp, do drugs, or leave trash behind. Additionally, some sort of community group to maintain the area would be helpful as well, he added.
But for the immediate future, he said the solution is to keep calling to report trash and needles, and spread the word to make people aware of the issue. “Who knows what the warmer weather will bring,” Lewis said in an email to the DCR, “but hopefully [somehow] we can nip these problems in Charlesgate Park in the bud now.”