Workers at an Albuquerque community center say they find dozens of hypodermic needles in their park, daily. With summer right around the corner, they’re about to have hundreds of kids playing there every day.
Some of the staff at Mesa Verde Community Center say they have to come out a few times a day to sweep the park for needles before they can let the kids out to play. On Monday, they picked up nearly 40.
“There is a problem with needles in the parks,” said Carol Pierce, Director of Family and Community Services.
It’s been almost a year since Mayor Tim Keller started the “Safe Handling And Routing of Paraphernalia” (SHARP) program, but people at Mesa Verde Community Center say they’re still finding tons of needles every day.
The SHARP program started last July. Six SHARP containers are set up throughout the city, and city departments are also working together to clean up reported areas.
“We go out there a couple of times a week,” said Mark Chavez, Parks Superintendent.
Still, some Mesa Verde employees say more needs to be done to keep their park safe. But for now, they’ll keep sweeping the park daily, making sure the students at the center are safe while they play.
“All of our staff are trained to pick up needles,” said Pierce.
The city employs about 800 teenagers as rec leaders during the summer months. They say all of them will be trained to clean up needles.
With summer on its way, Mesa Verde is expecting to see about 300 new kids at the community center.