City officials continue to answer questions on 'Methadone Mile' cleanup

Community continues to ask officials about cleanup of 'Methadone Mile'

BOSTON — Mayor Walsh and Commissioner Gross took follow-up questions on the city's attempts to clean up 'Methadone Mile' at a community event at Sparrow Park during a part of National Night Out.

Some of the people gathered there were at Wednesday night's packed meeting at the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library where residents grilled the city and police about their on-going safety and quality of life concerns connected to 'Methadone Mile.'

PREVIOUS: Meeting focuses on issues with 'Methadone Mile' in Boston's South End

Content Continues Below

The mayor and Commissioner Gross assuring those who feel there is no immediate solution that work is being done around the clock to address it. They also emphasized that everyone is working together to brainstorm ways to address the problems.

Commissioner Gross also clarified that the 30 people arrested in sweeps following last week's attack on a House of Corrections officer were all allegedly breaking the law.

More police assigned to the area through directed patrols are focused on those victimizing people in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, according to Commissioner Gross. He added that those patrols are not meant to harass those seeking help in the area.

Those ramped up patrols are focused on committing crimes and not those seeking help, Gross said.

The mayor says one of the biggest issues is the lack of resources in cities and towns outside of Boston. Walsh pointed out that his special advisor, Buddy Christopher, who was at Wednesday night's heated meeting is now dedicated solely to that issue.

Mayor Walsh added that the 2019 budget includes a 35% to add more outreach counselors.

Some of the current discussions include getting more outreach counselors into the area and potentially doing more work with the community.

Christine Gillespie, a resident of Boston, says she loves the community where she lives, but is growing tired of the problems she faces in her everyday life. From administering Narcan to people outside her window to daily pandering on her front steps, she's had enough.

"You have to have some compassion, but it's tough to live in," she said. "I'm thinking about moving because [of] how much it's costing me and my quality of living."

Gillespie also works as a nurse at Boston Medical Center in the 'Methadone Mile' area and says her daughter is a recovering addict who once lived under the Zakim Bridge. Gillespie says, based on her personal experience, she is not hopeful that the city will be able to solve the exponential problems now concentrated in that neighborhood.

As darkness fell on Mass. Ave near Melnea Cass Boulevard, a fight broke out near Boston Medical Center.

A few minutes later, people could be seen apparently using drugs in plain view. But through the perspective of a recovering addict who is two and a half months clean, there's more happening on 'Methadone Mile' than meets the eye.

"I experienced that myself and that's not the life for anybody," said Patrick Johnson. "I feel bad for everyone out here."

Johnson added that he's been trying to get back on his feet with the help of a roof over his head. That comes thanks to Hope House, a long-term facility that he moved to four weeks ago.

"I lost everything, my family, my girlfriend, my house, my clothes," Johnson said. "When you're clean and sober you get everything back you value in life."

The 29-year-old from the South Shore says, following last week's police sweeps, that the homeless still out on the streets have dispersed from one location to many spots out of plain view.

"I think it's worse pushing them toward people's houses," he said.

For longtime homeowner Greg Jackson, there's been a noticeable shift.

"There was someone taking a bath on the front yard using a hose," he said. "On Sunday there was a couple having sex three doors down on the stoop."

Jackson lived in East Springfield for 40 years. He believes things in his current neighborhood started spiraling after the closure of the treatment facilities on Long Island. And, he says, it gets worse by the day.

According to Boston Crime Incident Reports, there have been nearly 250 drug-related and medical calls so far this year in the proximity of 'Methadone Mile,' compared to less than 50 calls back in 2016.