Acting Mayor Kim Janey on Tuesday said her administration is reviewing plans to make an addiction treatment recovery campus on Long Island in Boston Harbor sustainable, and a ferry service is among the ideas being considered.
“A ferry service is something that I’ve thought about for quite some time, but to do that we need to make sure the island is self-sustaining, in terms of its ability to respond should there be a crisis on the island,” she said during a City Hall news conference.
The bridge to the island was abruptly closed in 2014 because it was deemed unsafe, upending addiction treatment services long offered there. Residents were evacuated off the island. Former mayor Martin J. Walsh made rebuilding the bridge and reopening the treatment facility a signature issue, but that initiative has yet to come to fruition, complicated by a protracted legal battle with neighboring Quincy, where opposition to constructing a new bridge runs deep among officials and residents.
The route to the island before the bridge was demolished ran through Quincy. The island is owned by the City of Boston.
On Tuesday, Janey said there was still “work in the capital plans to rebuild the recovery campus” on the island.
“We are reviewing that in such a way that gets us away from just counting on a bridge, but how can we make the island sustainable in the future on its own so that ferry service is a viable option?” Janey said.
She then emphasized that “The bridge is still very important . . . We will continue to push for the bridge to Long Island.”
Janey was responding to a question about “Mass. and Cass” — the area around Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, long considered to be the epicenter of the city’s opioid crisis.
“Some of the challenges that individuals are facing are much more than a location,” Janey said. “These are people who are in need of services and treatment. They’re in need of compassion. So we should avoid characterizing this as some geographic location in the city.”
In September, the Globe reported that the area, which is between Roxbury and the South End, had deteriorated during the pandemic, becoming more crowded with people who are homeless and those suffering from addiction. Police officials have recently said that they dedicated more resources to the area last year, bringing additional overtime costs.
The problems acutely felt in that part of Boston have become mayoral campaign issues. And Janey is not the first candidate in the crowded and increasingly pitched field to broach the idea of a ferry service to Long Island.
Earlier this year, Andrea Campbell, a city councilor and mayoral candidate, addressed the challenges in a policy rollout. Campbell called for the appointment of a Mass. and Cass chief and a dedicated first-responder unit for the area. She also called for reopening Long Island. with ferry service from mainland Boston, and spoke of the need to “accelerate construction to reactivate” the island’s docks, roads, waste removal, and transportation capabilities.
In years past, Quincy officials have also pushed for a ferry service. And Walsh, in 2014, said he was open to such an option, but added that other matters loomed, such as how to handle medical emergencies experienced by the homeless people and others on the island.
In other business on Tuesday, Janey made a series of announcements that underscore the progress the city has made battling COVID-19. She said 44 percent of city residents are fully vaccinated, while 64 percent have received at least one dose, while the positive test rate continues to fall, dropping to 2.4 percent. New positive test results in Boston have decreased by 28 percent over the past week. There are 75 patients in Boston hospitals because of COVID-19, which Janey noted was among the lowest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
She also said that starting Monday, City Hall will be open to the public by appointment for a fourth day each week. In addition to Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, people will be able to make in-person appointments on Mondays.
Additionally, Janey said the Boston Public Library will reopen for limited in-person services in June.
“Boston’s long fight against COVID-19 is starting to bring the end of this pandemic into view,” she said in a statement.
Danny McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.