Letter to the Editor: There's a lot of history to consider on the Long Island Bridge impasse

To the Editor:

I appreciate retired Judge James Dolan’s generous belief that “Mayor Walsh (Boston) and Mayor Koch (Quincy) could reach a compromise settlement that will serve both communities” expressed in his recent column about rebuilding the bridge between Quincy and Long Island.

I believe we agree that the recovery facilities shuttered by Mayor Walsh are desperately needed – and right now, rather than in 2021 following bridge construction. I cannot, however, feel confidence that Boston officials will come to the table in any meaningful or open way. 

It isn’t NIMBYism that has Quincy residents looking with skepticism at the promises and pronouncements being made by Boston officials concerning the $100-$150 million bridge they are proposing to build.

It is history. Lots of history.

History of Boston driving its unexploded bombs across the Neponset River Bridge, through the heart of Quincy and along miles of residential Squantum streets to detonate them “safely” on Moon Island. 

History of Boston putting a sewer “treatment” plant on Moon Island that polluted Quincy Bay and its beaches for years.

History of Boston putting police shooting ranges and fire academy facilities on Moon Island without applying for the necessary renovation permits and permissions from Quincy officials.

Noise pollution. Sewage pollution. Unstable explosives on residential streets. Traffic. In return, the people of Quincy were excluded from so much as walking Long Island’s shore or casting a fishing line.

I represented the people of the city of Quincy for more than 30 years in the Legislature. We are a city of people who work hard for what we have and aren’t interested in being taken advantage of by anyone.

The stated reason for rebuilding the bridge is so that the shelter and detox facilities precipitously closed in 2014, due to Boston’s neglect of the old bridge, can be rejuvenated into a “recovery campus.”  But consider another piece of history: The Long Island Bridge was built in the early 1950s not because it was needed for access to the hospital there, but to utilize part of the island for NIKE Missile sites during the Cold War. For the 60 years prior to that, the entire island – including the hospital – was accessible only by ferry.

Camp Harborview, on the far side of the island, houses youngsters and staff all summer, transported to-and-fro by ferry. In addition to the existing pier, there is a second pier head even closer to the hospital, waiting to be rebuilt and re-used at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time needed to build a bridge.

So if access by ferry is several times faster and a fraction of the cost, we may not know what the real holdup is without asking different questions.

 Michael W. Morrissey 
 Squantum, MA