LEWISTON — The Lewiston City Council approved an effort Tuesday to place a number of used needle receptacles in public locations.

The initiative, led by CommUNITY Recovery and Tri-County Mental Health Services, is meant as a safety measure for children and adults in public parks and recreational areas, who, according to city officials, have been encountering dirty syringes more frequently.

However, others questioned whether the plan caters too much to substance users or sends the wrong message to kids.

Lajoie questioned whether the boxes “legitimize” drug use, and said the city needs to “be stronger in our efforts to drive drugs out of the city, and then we won’t need these.”

Ronnie Paradis, chairwoman of the L-A Public Health Committee, which endorsed the one-year pilot program, said: “I’m worried about children, or police picking up needles. If this can save one person, it’s worth it.”

Resident Joshua Nagine said he supports the project, but he is concerned about some of the locations, many of which are playgrounds or areas frequented by children.

Police Chief Brian O’Malley said, “I wish we didn’t have this issue, but the locations were selected because that’s where we’re getting calls.”

“We don’t expect people from the community to pick them up,” he said. “Let’s give this an opportunity and see how it works.”

The council voted 4-2 in favor, with Michael Marcotte and Zachary Pettengill opposed.


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