Boston Neighborhood Works to Clean Up Needles, Syringes From Parks and Playgrounds - NECN


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Boston Neighborhood Works to Clean Up Needles, Syringes From Parks and Playgrounds

Roxbury residents say drug paraphernalia keeps reappearing in the same areas



    Community members in Roxbury, Massachusetts, are trying to fight the ongoing problem of the city's opiod crisis and the abundance of needles and dirty syringes in parks and playgrounds. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016)

    Boston’s opiod crisis has been spilling into nearby parks and playgrounds and community members in Roxbury are trying to fight the problem.

    Residents have been finding dirty needles and syringes in places like Clifford Park and in playgrounds. City officials say it’s hard to keep up with the growing problem.

    Leon Rivera said he would rather be outside running through the grass with his daughter but says it’s just too dangerous.

    In just the past few days, he’s picked up dirty needles, syringes, and other drug paraphernalia and it just keeps reappearing.

    “I think our city officials need to step it up,” Rivera said.

    He’s one of several community members in Roxbury who is frustrated with ‘methadone mile,’ a stretch of Mass Ave. near Boston Medical Center. The area is home to numerous social service agencies which helps people deal with the opiod crisis.

    Residents who have to walk in the area everyday say finding needles in front of the Boston Health Commission is pretty common.

    The problem is that the bulk of the users are pouring into nearby parks to get high, leaving a dangerous mess. City officials are having a difficult time keeping up.

    Devin Larkin with the Boston Health Commission says between a team of people sweeping city parks and streets daily, needle drop off boxes, and 3-11, they collect on average, 7,000 needles across the city each week. She says as long as there’s an opiod problem, the needles will follow.

    “We’d love to have more people, more money, more services,” Larkin said. “We’re seeing a lot of people in the acute throws of this addiction.”

    Bill Hill lost his son to a heroin overdose last year and tries to pick up as many needles he sees on the ground to honor his memory.

    “He’d probably say, ‘what the hell did I do that for,’” Hill said. “It’s an opiod problem all across the city, all across the state.”

    The Boston Health Commission is hoping to add more staff to its needle collection program.

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