Residents from Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain voiced strong opposition at a Boston City Council hearing Thursday to the redevelopment of Lemuel Shattuck Hospital located in Franklin Park.

The state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which owns Shattuck, is partnering with Boston Medical Center to transform the soon-to-be closed hospital into the largest campus for substance abuse treatment services in North America.

EOHHS says the goal is to reduce overcrowding in Boston's current shelters and expand treatment for substance abuse, which has been a long running problem for the city since the abrupt closure of the Long Island shelter in 2014.

The project would replace the hospital building with a new complex on the 13-acre campus that includes more than 400 permanent housing units and 450 treatment beds. In response to criticism over the scale of the proposal, Boston Medical Center and its development partners have already announced they are working on a scaled-down plan.

Still, residents at the hearing expressed safety concerns and said the planned use would affect the surrounding park and those who live nearby — particularly by housing hundreds of people in a concentrated area.

City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, who represents Roxbury, Dorchester, Fenway and parts of the South End, cast the redevelopment as an issue of racial equity for the communities surrounding the park. She said she worries that putting hundreds of people who are in recovery or dealing with homelessness in the same place will ultimately harm the people that the project aims to help.

“I am in support of the project. I am not in support of putting the housing piece in Franklin Park,” Fernandes Anderson said. “We have to de-concentrate these types of services, not overpopulate them in one area.”

Robert Koenig, Boston Medical Center’s vice president of strategic plans, responded to the criticism by saying that equity has been the number one priority in drafting the proposal.

“There are models of care that are accessible to people who may have greater means than many of the patients we care for; folks that have commercial insurance or that can pay out of their own pockets and go to a months-long recovery program,” Koenig said. “We’re seeking to do that, replicate that evidence model — but in a way that people who have public insurance can actually access.”

Rory Coffey, a member of the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association, said he’s afraid of another influx into the area of people using drugs. In 2021, 54 temporary residential units were set up on the hospital’s campus. They are considered “low threshold” shelters, meaning that residents do not have to be sober to live there. Coffey says that was when he and his 4-year-old son first saw people using illicit substances in Franklin Park.

“He sees three people laying in the grass and starts yelling ‘sleep sleep!’ I have to yell [and] grab him,” Coffey said. “I’ve spent endless hours cleaning up that park. I’ve cleaned out hundreds and hundreds of needles since those 54 low-threshold units went in.”

But Jamaica Plain resident Brendan Little said he was in favor of using the Shattuck's campus for rehabilitation programs like the one that he credits with saving his life.

“As someone who has seen Boston become more and more developed with expensive condos over the decades and become increasingly unaffordable, I’m excited at the potential for a development that will continue to help our society’s most vulnerable,” Little said.

Fernandes Anderson urged BMC to incorporate the feedback from neighboring residents, saying it would improve the outcome.

“The residents there should not be gas-lit to feel that they don’t care about housing because ‘nothing’s gonna happen if [BMC] doesn’t come and save the day,’” Fernandes Anderson said. “I really want to see beautiful, high-quality, holistic facilities that create this ecosystem, this campus for treatment.”