City hopes to expand SHARP program after positive results
March 19, 2019 10:30 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A collection program focuses on tackling the problem of needles at public parks.
The Safe Handling and Routing of Paraphernalia (SHARP) Program was announced in July 2018. It is a shared effort between the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.
Since that announcement, city officials said the collection bins are being used and calls for pickup have gone down.
There are even plans to expand the program. But as far as taking those parks back, that's still a work in progress.
“The number one objective we have at city parks and rec is to make sure all of our public parks and public spaces are clean and safe,” said Dave Simon, the director of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation.
Seven needle collection bins are set up at problem areas:
- Wilson Park
- Jack and Jill Park
- Coronado Park
- Tower Park
- Bel Air Park
- East Central (Central and Charleston)
- West Central (Central and Coors)
Each of those bins cost around $2,200 but six of them were donated by the New Mexico Department of Health. The seventh was purchased by a city councilor for a bin in their district.
They are all part of the SHARP program where six departments rotate cleanup duty monthly. The program is working, according to Simon.
“In Wilson Park, we have not had to respond to a 311 call from the public to pick up needles on the ground here since last November,” said Simon.
The bigger impact is on Albuquerque Fire Rescue. Before the program, they were responsible for responding to those calls. EMS Chief Chris Ortiz said cleanup calls took crews away from stations.
“As far as on the emergency response front Albuquerque Fire has reduced their calls to almost none for needle pickups,” said Ortiz.
The trial worked so well they want to expand it. While Calero said it would help him when he goes to the park, he said it won’t change the type of people there.
“We've also installed much better nighttime lighting,” said Simon.
Simon said they eventually plan to add improvements, like fencing and manpower.
They hope to have the additional collection bins in place sometime this spring. They are working on getting a grant to pay for the cost of the kiosks.
Updated: March 19, 2019 10:30 PM
Created: March 19, 2019 10:01 PM
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