Text last updated: June 2023
Maps last updated: July 19 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 here.

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.
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 side".

Needle and toy 3 heroin users nodding
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 manage.
Needle pickup before Shattuck cottages Needle pickup after Shattuck cottages
Within the area below the sum of calls is plotted
Needle pickup plot Needle pickup plot
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.
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.

Raise awareness of the situation. Contact:
Your local state representative and senator
The governor's office
Michelle Wu
Anyone that will listen in order to create awareness.

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 have good ideas and/or influence, my contact info is stonybrookdad@gmail.com.

Join neighborhood organizations and raise awareness:
Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council (GMNC)
Garrison-Trotter Neighborhood Association (Roxbury)
Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC)
Stony Brook Neighborhood Association (SNA)
Franklin Park Coalition (FPC)
Emerald Necklace Conservancy
If there are more, send me an email and I will add them.

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 company):

Beyond 311, I am not aware of any resources to prevent, stop, or mitigate the situation.