Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Thursday said he was disappointed to learn of the city of Quincy’s pledge to continue the dispute over a proposal to rebuild the Long Island Bridge and create an addiction recovery campus on the island, saying “this isn’t a fight we should be having.”
Walsh said at an afternoon press conference that he was excited to learn of a Superior Court judge’s ruling from earlier this month that found the Quincy Conservation Commission’s 2018 decision to deny Boston’s application for an order of conditions to rebuild the bridge was effectively null and void.
On Wednesday, Christopher Walker, chief of staff for Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch, told the Globe he anticipated city authorities would appeal the judge’s decision.
“No one should read this decision as the final chapter here,” Walker said.
Long Island is owned by the city of Boston. But access runs through Quincy, where officials and residents are opposed to constructing a new bridge and treatment center.
Walsh noted that Long Island had historically been used for social services and to house people experiencing homelessness, and residents were moved off the island when the bridge was demolished.
“The fact that we still are fighting and spending money in court and [they’re] stopping us from building a bridge and not taking a step back to listen to what we want to do is really disappointing,” Walsh said. “The mayor of Quincy is a friend of mine. I respect the elected officials in Quincy, but this is just simply wrong. This is just wrong.”
“I’m not building development on there; I’m not building a casino on there; I’m not building condominiums on there,” Walsh added. “I’m building a recovery campus, and the recovery campus will be open for anyone that wants to use it. [They] can be from Quincy, [they] can be from Weymouth, [they] can be from wherever.”
The Quincy Conservation Commission originally denied Boston’s application to rebuild the bridge in September 2018, and affirmed its denial in a September 2019 decision.
The Long Island bridge was built in 1950, deemed structurally unsound in 2014, and demolished in 2015, according to court records.
Walsh has made rebuilding the bridge and opening the recovery campus a signature issue and vowed to complete the project at the 2018 swearing-in ceremony for his second mayoral term.
“We have a substance use disorder issue in the United States of America that is pretty big,” Walsh said on Thursday. “The intention that we want to build the bridge back is to build a recovery campus that doesn’t exist anywhere in the United States of America right now, and we want to create something special on the island that people that are struggling with substance use disorder, whether its drugs or alcohol, they have a place to go.”
Walsh said the city intends to press ahead with its plans for the island.
“Our goal is to move forward; our goal is going to be to build that bridge; our goal is going to be to build that campus; our goal is going to be to open that bridge, someday cut the ribbon to that bridge, and open the doors to the recovery campus,” he said. “And if the first person in line is from the city of Quincy or the first person in line is from Squantum, they are more than welcome to come in.”