Last week’s emotional community meeting in Roxbury was no more contentious or full of vitriol and anger than scores of other past community meetings held when human services agencies attempt to site programs for the poor and needy in any neighborhood (“City rejects move of Long Island programs to Roxbury,” Dec. 10). The meeting was organized by Boston City Hall to discuss the vacant Radius Hospital as a possible temporary site for some of the vital Long Island programs that were affected by the abrupt closure of the bridge in October.
All it takes is a few provocative, inflammatory words from one loud person to incite a mob mentality that can overtake an otherwise caring and rational group of people.
The most reprehensible moment of the Roxbury meeting came when one resident shouted, “We don’t want those garbage and trash people in our neighborhood!” Even sadder was that no one, not even the elected officials present, bothered to calm the crowd. Instead, they chose to remain neutral, and silent.
In any negotiation, you strive for a win-win. The Radius site could have been a powerful chip for the community of Roxbury to use with our elected officials to advance redevelopment funding to improve the neighborhood’s businesses, schools, and services. This would have been in return for the temporary use of an empty hospital for well-established, reputable treatment agencies.
Once City Hall rejected Radius because of the contentious nature of the meeting, the result for everyone in Boston became a lose-lose.