In the meantime, Holaday attended a neighborhood meeting for Perkins Playground residents organized by Ward 1 Councilor Alison Heartquist that drew about 35 families. Also in attendance were Howard and Department of Public Works Director Tony Furnari. At that meeting, officials discussed the possibility of adding more street lights near the playground to make it less appealing to those looking to deal or shoot up. Video cameras and motion-activated sensor lights were also discussed, said Holaday.
According to Howard, Perkins Playground residents have expressed an interest in forming a neighborhood watch group and will be meeting with a police officer soon to come up with strategies on how to best patrol their area. The officer, Howard added, would continue to work as a liaison between the neighborhood and the police department.
But Howard stressed that the concerns felt by Perkins Playground residents are felt by residents citywide and that as long as the possession of needles is legal, he fears discarded needles will continue to be dumped in locations across the city. Howard empathized with the desire by lawmakers to stop the spread of diseases related to shared needle use, but by decriminalizing the possession of needles, he said it sends the wrong message to those who abuse drugs.
The City Health Department advises the public to avoid potential injury by taking the following precautionary steps when disposing of a found needle:
Use tongs or pliers to pick up the needle.
Place the needle in a hard plastic container (e.g., an empty peanut butter jar) with a lid. Avoid using a glass container because it can break.
Label the jar with the word “needle.”
Never throw sharps into household or public trash containers, toilets or recycling bins.
Drop the needles into any of the City Health Department Sharps disposal bins found in various locations around the city:
City Health Department at City Hall, 60 Pleasant St., Newburyport
Council on Aging, 40 Water St., Newburyport