Eight-person team to clean-up discarded needles in Paterson | Paterson Times

Eight-person team to clean-up discarded needles in Paterson


The protest and criticism of the city’s needle exchange program prompted the New Jersey Department of Health on Thursday to issue a $10,000 grant to the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation of New Jersey to clean up discarded needles in a number of locations throughout Paterson.

Eight trained people will be deployed for the clean-up, said Kathy Ahearn-O’Brien, executive director of the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation. She said the clean-up will go on for two weeks. After two weeks, a report will be put together and submitted to the state to figure out the next steps, she said.

“We’ll track the number of needle we’re finding and where we’re finding them,” she said on Thursday.

The team will target Auburn Street, church behind the Well of Hope, Fair Street, the Danforth Memorial Library, Barbour Park, Godwin Avenue, Roberto Clemente Park, School 10, and Eastside High School, Eastside Park, Wrigley Park, Van Houten and East 18th Streets, and the Walgreens on Madison Avenue.

Health officer Paul Persaud confirmed the details of the clean-up. He said there was a discussion about discarded needles found in public places this week.

“It’s going to have an impact. It’s a good start,” said Persaud.

Ahearn-O’Brien said the team began deployment on Thursday afternoon. She said the sweeps will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Valerie Freeman, who was one of the protesters calling for the shutdown of the Well of Hope which distributed 5 million needles in the city since 2008. “When the $10,000 runs out what happens?”

Freeman said the Well of Hope needs to take a more active role in ensuring addicts do not discard used needles in public parks and sidewalks. She said the program should be giving discarding boxes – “red containers” — to the addicts to allow them to safely return the dirty needles to the exchange for proper disposal.

“We want a total resolution to this,” added school board member Lilisa Mimms, who was also protesting the program on Tuesday morning. The protesting residents said the program needs to be better monitored after the clean-up is completed otherwise more needles will simply end up in the cleaned places.

The Hyacinth AIDS Foundation runs the Jersey City needle exchange. Ahearn-O’Brien said needle exchange operators generally conduct sweeps around their neighborhood; however, the tight staffing at these programs makes it difficult to conduct these sweeps.

Both Mimms and Freeman were skeptical about the clean-up. There needs to be a permanent plan to ensure needles do not land in public places; without such a plan, the program ought to be shut down, both argued.

“This program needs to go. It’s a hazard to our community and interrupts quality of life,” said Mimms.

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  • Plumber

    wait a minute, you're going to have a group of eight folks picking up discarded needles for six hours a day until the $10,000 fund runs out, yea right more smoke up our ass, the city can't even get DPW which has a large group of men employed to clean up the city, how about stop handing out these needles all together, what's more important a drug addict who really doesn't care about his/her health or life receiving needles which the tax payers pay for so they don't catch a disease from sharing needles or a small child finding an infected needle thinking it's a toy and stick's other kids for fun not knowing, and how can you believe these addicts after using these needles are compelled in keeping Paterson clean and needle free and would dispose these needles in a proper manner, yea right.

  • Robert Velez

    Hey..instead of targeting the needle exchange program why don't they target the dealers on Auburn, Spring Street and other areas in the 4th Ward. They don't have the GUTS to stand in those areas to deter the sales and purchase of drugs. I find it AMAZING Black Lives Matter has a chapter in Paterson..YET they NEVER PROTEST ANY OF THE VIOLENCE OR CRIME IN PATERSON.

  • Old man so

    How about start locking up these junkies! But not in our jail, send them back to where they came from cause 80% of these addicts are not even from this city or county. But yet the kids have to look at these zombies as they walk to school! For years it was the inner city ghetto low lives problem, so there was never a you tube video or documentary made. America didnt care about the little girl who had to get herself ready for school cause her mom was too nodded out, then had to walk thru these zombies just to get to school. Nowwww because its "white suburban America" its an epidemic. Its sad to see the attention these weak spoiled junkies get. There giving everything, but like brats its not good enough so they come to destroy citys that they would lock there doors driving through in, and allow childern who are forced to see them doped out, trickin, or pan handling. They wont do it in there neighborhood but theyll come to where they can score at. There pethetic and there enabling parents are even more pethetic. So Weak and no motivation. Thats what happens when your giving everything. Then the tax payer has to pay for these pieces of garbage to go to a detox that they leave and relaps in. Beyond pethetic!!