Text last updated: June 2023
Maps last updated: February 16 2024
Since the installation of the Shattuck
cottages and conversion of Pine St Inn to low-threshold housing within Franklin Park, I have noticed a dramatic increase
in open heroin use and evidence left behind of recent use. In
conversations with people that clean up the Williams St entrance
area, it is clear that cleanup changed from alcohol nips to needle
caps. I created this website and pulled the available 311 data to
see if what I am observing is real or something I just started
noticing. Since then, I have extensively walked through areas of
the woods which are adjacent to the Shattuck campus. Within
Franklin Park, in the last year I guided Boston Public Health
employees to hundreds needles, found crack/meth pipes and
children's toys mixed in with needles, I witnessed heroin deals, I
found bags containing heroin near trails where dogs and
children play, I encountered a lot of people actively using heroin,
witnessed unresponsive people being removed by emergency personnel,
and helped clear encampments where users did drugs during the day
and slept on the Shattuck campus at night. After extensive
lobbying, I have made enough contacts to start working with Ray at
the Pine St Inn and Josh Cuddy at the cottages. I've worked with
Tanya Del Rio to get services to those that recently used opioid,
and have tried to do the same with Ray and Josh. I put my findings
One major finding is that there are no mechanisms in place to
mitigate the impact of the Shattuck cottages within the vicinity.
It appears no thought was given to potential ramifications and only
100% success was planned for. This is while working with a
population that will stumble many times before reaching success. My
hope moving forward is that we can learn from our mistakes, place
some measures to mitigate the heroin use in the park, have good
neighbors, and set up those seeking treatment for success and not
have temptation at their doorstep.
What started me on this journey was a
visit with my toddler to the Williams St. entrance of Franklin Park
during the middle of the day. About 100 feet into the park, and
within the opening on the left, 3 individuals appeared to be having
a picnic. My son repeatedly said "sleep" and ran towards them. They
were actively shooting up heroin.
A day after observing people using heroin near
the Williams St. entrance of Franklin Park, I found over a dozen
needles in the area, including what is pictured below. I could not
help but wonder "would my toddler be able to tell the difference
between a blood-filled syringe and a toy when left side by
I must admit, this encounter nerved me
a little bit. I became super vigilant and noticed all the evidence
of heroin use within the area; needles, addipaks, needle caps,
these suddenly seemed to be accumulating, and especially near the
benches at the Ellicott Arch. On almost every walk I would find a
needle and sometimes up to 20 within a single location. I could not
escape the visual of needle caps appearing and disappearing.
Someone was cleaning these up but they kept coming back. I was not
sure if what I was seeing was due to a keener eye or an increase in
activity. I set out to gather data to see if I was being
emotionally biased. That is what this website is designed to do.
Please explore the other tabs if you are interested. I collected
all the data I could from 311 on needle cleanup locations
throughout Boston and aggregated by month and week.
Below you can see the comparison of needle
cleanup from before the Shattuck cottages and since the
construction. As of this writing, I see a clear increase of needles
within the Williams St. entrance area. I set this up to update
every week, so by the time you are reading this, it may be worse,
or it may be better. What is telling is the timing of the activity.
Increases started after placement of housing and services and not
before, therefore, it is not the lack of housing and services
leading to what we see, it is the placement of them within the
park. Either the vicinity has been mismanaged, or the density of
housing and services in the area is too high to effectively
Within the area below the sum of calls is plotted
If we start looking at where needles
are found, a clear trajectory is seen coming from the Shattuck
campus. In the image below, each purple to yellow heat-map area
represents where needles were found since December 20, 2021, when
the cottages on the Shattuck campus opened; the blue circle
represents the relative size of population housed; the black line
is where there is currently a fence; the red line is the trajectory
coming from the Shattuck site. This heat-map matches my
observations. Activity from the Williams St. entrance to the
Ellicott arches is increasing.
This now leads me to the next obvious
area, the woods with high activity located between the entrance
leading to the Ellicott Arch and Cemetery Road. This area is seen
in the picture below and encircled by a red line. I have explored a
lot of this area. It is a place to get out of your comfort zone.
There is continual evidence of heroin use throughout all the trails
here. I have found hundreds of needles, seen active heroin use,
seen drug deals, found bags with heroin still in them, and many
encampments, both empty and being setup.
Area on top of the rock overlooking Forest Hills St. Location
of repeated heroin use.
About a half dozen encampments that go in and out of use. On a
hill overlooking the Shattuck Campus.
Benches near Ellicott Arch where there is regular use. I
witnessed both heroin deals and active shooting up at the
Place where the first picture of this page was taken, and
people were openly using heroin. Needles and a toy were found here.
It is an area frequented by children.
So where do we go from here? I do not have all
the answers and am just some Joe Schmo from the nearby
neighborhood. I do think we can do better; not only for the
community but also for those that are seeking treatment. Not only
are these not mutually exclusive, but they are also intertwined.
Everybody loses when there is a growth of open heroin usage near
where services are placed for those seeking treatment. It is not
good for the health of the community, nor is it good for preventing
temptation and relapse for the patient.
Marylou Sudders and her team informed the community of their
decision to place the cottages at the Shattuck campus, they came
with rehearsed talking points. The main talking point was their
intention of being a good neighbor. This has not been the situation
so far. There were no mechanisms put into place to mitigate heroin
use in the area. Since placement of the cottages, there has been no
evaluation of impact, nor outreach to the community. People from
Mass and Cass were moved here, and 100% success was declared
without any learnings. I believe now is the time to start learning
from what is not working and start finding solutions that do work.
Mechanisms and plans put into place are needed to both prevent and
mitigate heroin use in the vicinity.
She also told us these would be temporary for 6 months and there
were many other sites lined up. As of June 2023, 1.5 years later,
there have been no other sites created and the cottages are still
within the Shattuck Campus. If we can spread out some of the
services to the rest of the state, maybe we can start getting to
We, as a community, need to have local
heroin use mitigated before bringing in another group of people
trying to move on from addiction. In a high-density complex on
Washington St. within the nearby neighborhood, 141 houses for the
homeless are being added. This is housing first for
those still struggling with addiction to heroin. This housing is
not yet finished but is expected to be finished the Spring of 2024.
It is also the largest of its kind; a capacity that is almost 5
times larger than the cottages on the Shattuck Campus. Having
opioid use encampments in nearby Franklin Park will make it near
impossible for this population to get back on its feet.
In addition to this, BMC is pushing through a proposal to add another
851 beds/units for those struggling with opioid use within this area.
This density and concentration cannot be effectively managed before
there is effective management of the current 60 beds/units.
Pine St Inn location and relative size added
Now is the time to start having a
dialogue to move forward to a better place. Before expanding
services nearby, we need to learn from the services already put in
place. There needs to be true outreach and involvement of the
community. I do not know how to move this forward. There are a few
of us starting to get together, but I hope those with great ideas
and influence can help. Hopefully, this website and my observations
can help things move in the right direction.
Let's leave this place better than we found
it. Let's do what's best for the community and those addicted to
opioids. Let's not sacrifice Franklin Park, the nearby
neighborhoods, and those addicted to opioids in order to reduce the
heat politicians are feeling about Mass and Cass. This is a statewide problem that needs statewide solutions. Help
try and get services spread throughout Massachusetts and not concentrated in one or two areas.
BMC is planning on dramatically increasing the density of those with opioid use disorder to 851+ in addition to the 140 nearby on Washington St. To write elected officials on this issue:
Generate and send an email. Add your name and address. Click the button, edit as you see fit, and send the email.
If you find needles in the park, use the 311 mobile app to get it
cleaned up. The mobile app will add GPS coordinates making cleanup
easier for those picking up the needles (Dana, Leroy, David, and
Beyond 311, I am not aware of any resources to prevent, stop, or
mitigate the situation.
Below are some pictures taken within
the park in the last month. At the tabs at the top of this page are
sources for more pictures. The tab labeled Franklin Park Pictures
contains date and location information for each picture.