THE BRIDGE to the homeless shelter and drug rehabilitation programs on Long Island — the largest island in Boston Harbor — is structurally unsound and out of commission. Also unsound are the longstanding policies that have led to the shuttling of homeless men and women across the decaying steel structure while barring the general public from enjoying the 214-acre island.
Long Island is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area that includes popular spots such as Georges Island and Spectacle Island. But the general public can’t get there from here. Guards blocked access to the roughly 3,000-foot bridge to Long Island even when it was safe to pass. There is no ferry service to the island, no tours, no public toilets, no camping, no picnic areas, and no refreshments. For many decades, the island has served as an almshouse, chronic disease hospital, and more recently as a domicile for the homeless and addicts in need of detoxification and treatment. Since 2007, several hundred kids from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods have been attending summer camp sessions on the northern end of the island.
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