By Beth Treffeisen
On New Year’s Day morning, Mayor Martin Walsh took his oath of office, and was sworn into his second term as the 54th mayor of Boston in front of a large crowd filled with residents, supporters, faith leaders and elected officials in the Cutler Majestic Theatre.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. presided over the ceremony that also included the swearing-in of the Boston City Council.
“It is an honor to preside over Mayor Walsh’s swearing in,” said Vice President Biden. “Marty is a man of incredible character and courage. He has never forgotten where he comes from. I don’t think there’s a mayor in America who better understands the middle class, or who will do more to fight for its revitalization the years ahead than Mayor Marty Walsh. Building on the work that the mayor and the City Council have already done, the future is bright for the City of Boston.”
In Mayor Walsh’s second inaugural address, he committed to prioritizing the fundamentals of the middle class opportunity by creating strong public schools, good jobs, and affordable homes in safe neighborhoods.
Walsh further committed to securing resources for Boston’s most vulnerable populations and providing more opportunity in every neighborhood across the city.
“In the last four years, we have dedicated ourselves, together, to Boston’s progress,” said Walsh. “And as we’ve proven to each other, our nation and the world, Boston never stops rising to the occasion, setting new goals, tackling new challenges and soaring to new heights.”
“I’m honored to stand alongside this city’s residents and have the opportunity to continue our work of making Boston a shining example – our shining city on a hill – of all people coming together to make their neighborhoods and their city better each day, year, and generation. We all share the same conviction that we are always moving forward towards a better Boston, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
In his address, mayor Walsh outlined his administration’s plans as he begins his second term including eliminating the opportunity gap, working together to help the homeless population, increasing access to housing, and investing more in recovery services.
“We can be a City for the royal class because it works for the middle class,” said Walsh.
In order to strengthen the pipeline to jobs in the City of Boston, Mayor Walsh outlined his BuildBPS program, which includes reconstructing the Boston Arts Academy in the Fenway neighborhood, providing needed upgrades to the Quincy Upper School in Charlestown, and rebuilding the Carter School in the South End that serves the students with the most profound special needs.
Walsh said that over the next four years he will continue to build on the public schools, saying he hopes to “strengthen the academic pathways” for every student in Boston.
In addition, Mayor Walsh wants to continue to invest more in recovery services as the opioid crisis continues to grow in Boston.
After years of doubt from community members, Mayor Walsh announced that his administration plans to rebuild the Long Island Bridge, and allow Boston to invest in a comprehensive, long-term recovery facility on Long Island.
By re-opening the Long Island facility, Mayor Walsh said that Boston will be able to offer essential recovery resources in a serene setting, and provide services spanning the whole continuum of care such as harm reduction, detox, residential treatment, transitional housing and ongoing peer support.
In 2014 to ensure public safety, Mayor Walsh decided to close Long Island Bridge, shuttering the homeless services on the island. Although the city has worked to replace all shelter beds that were once housed on Long Island and have since continued to add more, Walsh believes the space has potential to be used for those suffering from substance use disorders.
The City is working on developing a funding plan and is seeking the necessary permits to reconstruct the connecting bridge to the island. The estimated construction costs for a replacement are approximately $40 – $100 million, depending on design.
Partial funding for the bridge is already contained in Boston’s fiscal year 18-22 Capital Plan, and the City projects to have over $30 million available from the Parking Meter Fund around the time construction could begin.
The bridge will likely be similar to the old bridge, with one lane in each direction, and sidewalks, as well as an open channel for boats below. City engineers plan to update the design and materials from the original 1951 bridge to ensure a longer-lasting structure.
“Boston owns the finish line to the rest of the nation,” said Biden. “This is a remarkable city with a remarkable past with a phenomenal future as my grandfather used to say, ‘this is a match made in heaven,’ with Marty Walsh in Boston.”