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With Mass and Cass, Wu’s reputation at risk

Melvin B. Miller

Franklin Park has been a relatively safe place. The attack on Jean McGuire was an uncommon event. For years, she walked her dogs in the park without event, but that changed recently when the 91-year-old community icon was assaulted by a man who slashed her with a knife when she was not compliant.

The police have assiduously sought the assailant, but no alleged perpetrator has been as yet identified. But one fact is clear: Roxbury residents can no longer consider Franklin Park to be safe after hours. In fact, some residents who use the park frequently had already begun to be concerned about safety with the recent placement of people from Mass and Cass at the Shattuck Hospital site.

People have reported that camping sites with tents have appeared in wooded areas near the Shattuck Hospital, and some used needles have been found. Prior to the establishment of temporary housing on the Shattuck parking lot, there was little indication of drug-addicted individuals being at all in the area.

Mayor Wu now confronts a very serious dilemma. After the attack on Jean McGuire, it will be difficult to gain community support for the assignment of Mass and Cass residents to the Franklin Park area. There is no solution to the problem that satisfies the instinct of being compassionate to fellow citizens who have fallen into drug addiction or have lost the financial resources to avoid homelessness.

The fact is that no homeowners want such afflicted people as their neighbors. People know that the introduction into their neighborhoods of folks from Mass and Cass will almost immediately cause a decline in real estate values. And what is worse, Mass and Cass folks are from everywhere. They are not Roxbury neighbors who require some help.

The only solution is to utilize Long Island in Boston Harbor. Too much time has already been wasted that would allow renovation of needed buildings in good weather. There is somewhere undoubtedly a ferry that can be leased during the winter months.

The mayor waited too long to act assertively. Now she has permitted the troubled Mass and Cass crowd to jeopardize the quality of her administration.