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Portland residents say new syringe disposal boxes are a step, but not enough

City officials hope the boxes will curb the number of needles left on the ground, but some say there should be a greater effort to decrease the volume of drugs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Syringe disposal boxes are now located at three parks in Louisville.

Metro Parks made the announcement Monday; city officials hope the boxes will curb the number of needles left on the ground, harming people who find them.

However, some Portland residents think the newly installed boxes won’t be much help unless there is a more concerted effort to curb the volume of drugs in the neighborhood.

Lynn King lives near Boone Square Park, one of the sites of the newly installed boxes. She states she sees needles all around the neighborhood, some even left in her open truck bed.

King showed WHAS the alley behind her home, which she said is a haven for many people who shoot up drugs. An armband, King suspects was used to aiding in the process, was still on the ground.

“They're taking these little side alleys and stuff, and they're going back and using and leaving their needles and their fentanyl,” King said. “I'm tired of not being able to let the kids come out and play, worried about something happened to them.”

During the announcement Monday, Metro Councilmember Donna Purvis, who represents Portland, said it's needed.

"I've listened to my constituents be concerned as they bring their children to play in these neighborhood parks and being exposed to the dangers of hypodermic needles,” she said.

Monday, some residents passing by the conference said they feel these boxes encourage drug use. King disagrees. She said drug use was already a problem in the community before these boxes and says now at least there's a safe place to dispose of syringes.

RELATED: Syringe disposal box locations in Louisville parks, across city | whas11.com 

Another neighbor, who wants to be anonymous, said she knows the danger all too well. She said her young daughter's friend found, and picked up, a syringe.

“She smacked it out the little girls and it came right home to me to tell me,” she said. “Before we even let our kids go over to this park, we got to literally do a safety check because it's that bad.”

Both neighbors said the boxes aren't a cure-all.

They said more signage is needed to alert people to the boxes, and the root of the problem has to be addressed - the volume of drugs in the neighborhood.

Diabetics, and those with other health conditions, can also use the boxes to discard syringes.

The Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness started Kentucky’s first Syringe Services Program in 2015.

The boxes are at the following locations:

- LMPHW headquarters, 400 E. Gray St.

- Outside the Salvation Army, at S. Brook and E. Breckinridge St.

- Shelby Park, 600 E. Oak St.

- Portland Park, 640 N. 27th St.

- Boone Square Park, 1935 Rowan St.

Once syringes are placed in a box, they cannot be accessed by anyone except the authorized waste disposal team.


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