By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – “It is full of potential,” said Mayor Michelle Wu after she stepped off the fire boat that had taken her to visit the abandoned Long Island on the Boston Harbor.

“Walking in those spaces was quite eerie in some ways because I remember how busy and full they were, how many people were being served,” Wu said.

The Long Island drug rehabilitation facility has been abandoned since the city destroyed the only bridge connecting to it in 2015. It was deemed unsafe. Now, Mayor Wu is up against her own deadline to clean up the infamous homeless encampment downtown by next week. To help, she says her team may bring Long Island back to life. No word on when, or how people would get there.

“There was no better way to do this, than to actually see the state of the docks and the buildings out there,” said Wu.

Mayor Michelle Wu tours Long Island and its buildings along with other administration staff and officials. (Boston Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)

After temperatures dipped to the lowest point of the season so far from Monday night to Tuesday morning, the tents are still spilling into Boston’s Newmarket Square. Dock workers at the Massachusetts Wholesale Food Terminal step past them every morning.

“They used the bottom of a cone and smashed through my front window,” said Anthony Spinazzola, who owns Newmarket Café. He says the grim scene outside his window was not as bad when Long Island was up and running. “I hope the mayor can do something, because this would be big for her term if she could do something about it,” she said.

Last month, the city put up cottages for homeless people on the grounds of the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain.

Now Mayor Wu hopes Long Island might lead the way to a longer-term solution. “Every life that we can save,” she said. “Every person we can get housed, is a step forward that we’re going to analyze.”

Christina Hager