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Closure of bridge may not halt Camp Harbor View

Andanireliz Baez and Crystal Pugilese were at Camp Harbor View last summer. The urban camp was set up in 2007.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Camp Harbor View, which hosts 900 children on Long Island in Boston Harbor each summer, plans to find alternative transportation to the island next year after the city’s closure of a bridge that was deemed unsafe.

Businessman Jack Connors Jr., who established the summer camp for urban youth in 2007 with then-Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino, said Saturday that he will find a way to get campers and staff to the grounds in time for the July-August camp.

“We’re having camp,” Connors said. “All we have to do is figure out how to get 450 kids and 90 staff out there every day.”


The city closed the 63-year-old bridge to the island Wednesday after a state inspection found that it was too unstable for vehicles. Repairs could cost $80 million and take as long as five years.

The island is also home to Boston’s largest homeless shelter and programs for recovering addicts.

Connors said he does not object to the city’s decision to close the bridge, and he believes he has ample time to arrange for alternate transportation. One possibility would be to use a ferry. A 150-yard pier was built on the campgrounds five years ago, and campers use it for sailing and kayaking, Connors said.

The pier is also used during the Harborthon 5K, an annual road race on the island. Race participants access the island by ferry and are dropped off at the pier, Connors said.

Connors said he has also offered use of the pier to Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh as a possible way to transport hundreds of people who use the island’s homeless shelter and recovery programs. They were evacuated from the island with little notice Wednesday, ahead of the closure of the bridge.

The island has another pier located near the homeless shelter, but it is not as large as the one on the campsite, Connors said.


“Our first thoughts are how do we help the folks that are living there and detoxing there,” he said.

Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for Walsh, said the city is considering all options.

“There are some concerns about safety for the winter months, as the current docks on the island are not ‘all-season’ docks. But we are exploring a number of options for long-term solutions for programming,” Norton said in a statement.

For now, city officials are temporarily housing the displaced at the South End Fitness Center, where they expect to put as many as 250 people.

Connors said he does not know how much it would cost to provide ferry service for the camp, but he expressed confidence that donors would contribute the necessary funds.

He said supporters have given $53 million to the camp since it was established, including $4 million raised in June at an annual fund-raiser. It costs about $3 million to run the camp each summer. Parents pay just $5 for a child to attend a four-week session.

“I’m imagining that we’re going to find a solution and a lot of financial support to make this solution work for folks,” Connors said.

The camp is for children ranging in age from 11 to 14 and is intended to provide campers with a fun escape from the city during the summer months, when violence usually spikes. There are two four-week sessions, each serving 450 campers. The Boys & Girls Club of Boston operates the camp.


In previous years, campers were bused to the island daily from multiple locations in the city. Connors said he was not aware of anyone associated with the camp being part of the evacuation that occurred Wednesday.

When camp is not in session, activity at the site is reduced mostly to maintenance and repair work, Connors said. Events for campers and their families, like an annual holiday party and tutoring programs, are held in the city, he said.

Connors estimated that he should know in the next 30 days how campers and staff will get to the island next summer.

“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “Am I going to have to work a little harder? Is my team going to work a little harder? Yes. But we’re having camp next summer.”

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.