Ware addressing used syringe problem - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Ware addressing used syringe problem

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Residents in town are concerned with used hypodermic needles they are finding in the street.

It is part of a growing problem that coincides with a rise in heroin use across Western Massachusetts and beyond.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a survey from 2012 showed an 80 percent rise in heroin users in the United States.

"We've definitely seen an increase in activity and a switch in the type of drugs being used, so there are more needles out there," said Ware Town Manager Stuart Beckley.

Beckley is meeting that rise in needle use head on.

Tuesday night, a resident from Pulaski Street, which is less than 100 yards from town hall, complained about needles being found while she went for a walk.

Beckley is now working on two solutions.

The first is coming up with a policy for town workers to safely remove needles from public locations.

"The other request was that there be a central location to dispose of sharps, since it's illegal to throw them in the trash," said Beckley. "We're looking at vendors or haulers that might provide us with a box to do that."

Beckley said the people of Ware should be able to walk needle-free streets.

"It's all tied into the quality of life that residents should be able to expect," Beckley stated. "Needles on a public way is not what one would expect."

The syringe problem is not isolated to the town.

"It took a little while to get off the ground, gain trust with the population to start coming in here," said Liz Whynott, manager of Tapestry Health's needle exchange program in Holyoke.

The program has been running since August of 2012 and provides multiple ways to get used needles off of city streets.

"It's really important for people to have safe places to drop off their used syringes, especially if they're doing illegal drugs," said Whynott.

The Holyoke facility is just the second needle exchange program in Western Mass.

Tapestry's original program in Northampton opened in 1994.

Whynott said they are open to helping their neighbors, including the town of Ware.

"Part of what we want to do is talk to people in other communities and try to help them in figuring out how to make their streets safer and cleaner," said Whynott.

Beckley told CBS 3 that whatever the solution, it needs to be cost effective.

"If it's a cost that the town can afford, providing a centralized drop off, then we'd look at whether it's a police station or here at town hall that would set up a drop off," said Beckley.

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