Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association meeting June 8

Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association meeting June 8

Opioid issues, effects of highway improvements under discussion

Photos, above:
1) Sgt. Louis Cherubino discussed the opioid situation.
2) Steve Del Grosso (left) of Walsh Construction and MBTA Project Team member Jim Kersten (right) spoke about the upcoming Commonwealth Avenue project.

Presentations on the city’s handling of the opioid problem in Central Square and plans for replacement of the Commonwealth Avenue bridge topped the agenda at the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association (CNA) meeting on Thursday, June 8 at the LBJ apartments,150 Erie Street. About two dozen people attended the event, which also included updates on plans for Magazine Beach and for restoring the "Beat the Belt" mural by Bernard LaCasse on the back of the Micro Center building at Memorial Plaza. Attendees were reminded that the restoration will take place June 19-23; the public is welcome to observe.

Opioid use downtown: A central topic of the evening was illegal use of prescription and non-prescription opioids in Central Square. The situation was reviewed by Sgt. Louis Cherubino of the Cambridge Police Department, who said opioid use in the area started to increase about two years ago. The city’s approach is intended to help addicts rather than punish them.

“We have a detective go and listen to the addicted individual. We offer them a resources guide, and if they want help we provide it. A lot of people don’t want to work with the police, so we follow up with a social worker,” he said. “We’re looking to lessen the stigma. Every officer has somebody they know suffering from addiction."

He displayed a NARCAN nasal spray, an antidote that reverses the effects of opioids. In the program being considered for Cambridge NARCAN would be available in response to a 911 call, from lock boxes located around the city. The set-up is being developed by General Emergency Medical Supplies (G.E.M.S.), a local enterprise.

Central Square had 199 overdose reports in 2016, Cherubino said, with 25-26 of them suspected fatal. Quick response time can make the difference between death or violent reaction to the drug, he said.

Repairs to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge: Traffic concerns in Cambridge resulting from upcoming repairs of the Commonwealth Avenue bridge over I-90 were also a topic. Reconstruction work between the St. Mary’s entrance on the east and the St. Paul’s entrance on the west will partially close the highway from July 26 to August 14, according to reports from Legislative Liaison Jim Kersten of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and from Steve Del Grosso of the Walsh Construction project team.

Work will go on day and night to make the time as short as possible, they said. Another set of repairs affecting traffic in the opposite direction will occur next year.

CNA listserv: Listserv Moderator Mari Badger reported on recommendations from users for improving the listserv. She suggested that its goals and those of CNA, as well as the role of the moderator, might need to be more clearly defined, and she noted that perhaps residents should consider including a calendar and/or a community blog.

Magazine Beach: Magazine Beach Committee members Zusy and Ken Carson reported that the Committee has realized that they need to create a dedicated nonprofit in order to be more effective stewards of Magazine Beach and better fundraisers for it.

A summer events list—about 40 programs and many new ones, all free, is out and posted at the Magazine Beach website. The swimming pool opens June 24 at 11 am and will be open daily, 11am-7pm, until August 23.

Coming soon: DCR is building a spray deck on the pool deck, and they will put bathrooms and lights into the Powder Magazine.