By Rebeca Oliveira and John Ruch, Gazette Staff
FOREST HILLS—Three hypodermic needles, apparently used for drugs, have been found at Forest Hills Cemetery in the past month, according to local resident Kosta Demos, who pricked his finger on one while trying to throw it away.
Forest Hills Cemetery installed new streetlights last month to increase safety in the area, CEO George Milley said. But Demos said the lights are attracting troublemakers.
“I’m nursing my wound,” Demos told the Gazette. The needle “was probably lying there long enough there’s nothing alive on it,” he said.
Demos called the Gazette immediately following the finger-pricking incident last week. The Gazette counseled him to seek medical attention, which Demos later said he has done.
He also told the Gazette that he has found syringes in the cemetery before, adding that “it’s very rare and [usually] in secluded spots.”
But he recently found three needles on Forest Hills Avenue, the cemetery’s driveway. The one on which he pricked his finger was found at the intersection of the driveway and Yale Terrace, which leads to Demos’s house, and is close to the cemetery’s main entrance.
Demos, a longtime Forest Hills resident, said he believes the new lights installed along the cemetery’s driveway last month are the cause of what he perceives as an increase in illegal activities into the area.
“I feel that the low-life traffic has been amplified by the illumination on the driveway,” he said. “By putting the lights there, they’re seducing people into thinking it’s a public way and creating activity that no one wants.”
“The syringe could have been there an hour, a week, a year,” Milley said. “That’s why we put the lights in,” to keep undesirable behavior at bay, he added.
Boston police has only been called to Forest Hills Avenue once since July 1, for traffic services, Boston police spokesperson Tracy Kenney told the Gazette.
Milley told the Gazette that the Victorian-style lights were installed to make the entrance to the cemetery more safe and welcoming. He said he does not think there has been an increase in illicit activity in the area.
“We want to make sure of the staff’s safety,” Milley added.
Demos also does not approve of the new lights’ aesthetics and brightness.
“It’s just like Coney Island. It’s crazy overkill,” he said. “Once the leaves fall, [those lights] will be shining into our faces.”
Demos’ neighbor, Liz O’Connor, also dislikes the new lights.
“I think they’re atrocious. I don’t know why anyone would want them. It’s a lot of unnecessary light,” she said. “I feel like the street’s beauty is really marred by those lights.”
Liz O’Connor’s husband, Jerry O’Connor, does not feel as strongly.
“I don’t know quite what to make of them,” he said. “I think they’re a little brighter than they need to be. It’s quite a change. I don’t think we’re used to them yet.”
“I appreciate they’re looking out for safety,” he concluded.
Milley, meanwhile, said the cemetery has not received “a single complaint” about the lights.
“It’s a great addition to the neighborhood at expense of the cemetery,” he said.