New York City park sees rampant drug use amidst complaints from residents, new records reveal

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Watch your step at Needle Playground.

Regular visitors to Patterson Playground in the Bronx have long complained about the rampant drug use there — and now they have data to show just how bad the situation is.

Recently released records show that the city picked up more used syringes there than at any other Bronx playground in any month of 2019. 

Concerned residents say that the needle drop-off boxes send out mixed messages about drug use.
(Fox 5 NY)

Workers cleaned up 2,352 needles at Patterson, near P.S. 18 in the Mott Haven section, in August 2019, according to city data obtained by the Muckrock website on July 21.

In all, 4,714 syringes were collected off the ground at Patterson in June, July, and August of 2019, up 24 percent from the same time period in 2018, when 3,792 needles got picked up, the city data says.

“They’re all over the place. All over the streets. Every place you are, you find one,” said Pedro Velez, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. “People over here know, so they walk very lightly. They’re very vigilant.”

“They be shooting up all day long. They got a drug spot over there in the corner,” Velez said of the drug users filling the park. “Every night, every hour of the day, this thing goes on.”

Patterson users have complained about the filthy, drug-ridden park for years online, with one person slamming the green space in a Google review as “nowhere you want to be,” and another noting there were “waaaay to [sic] many dope heads and needles.”

“It’s bad. It’s bad,” another local, who gave his name only as Smooth, told The Post.

On a recent weekday morning, The Post observed open drug use around the park, with one man apparently “cooking” narcotics, with syringes on the ground nearby.

Meanwhile, groups of kids played softball and soccer just a stone’s throw away.

Later that week, The Post saw emergency medical technicians attempt to wake an apparently unconscious woman, who was lying flat on her back in the playground.

“You’re allowing your children to have no childhood,” Smooth said. “You’re robbing them.”

The availability of drugs coupled with a syringe access program just around the corner makes the playground a needle-magnet, residents said.

“Everything is right at hand. So people just get high every day,” Velez said.

Nearby BOOM!Health, whose services include “syringe access, health coordination, behavioral health, housing, legal, advocacy and wellness services,” didn’t return a request for comment.

Click here to read more of the New York Post

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