Press Releases

Monday, May 21, 2018


In response to persistent presence of discarded syringes in Bronx parks, the City will install safe disposal kiosks and deploy trained staff to maintain and empty them

City will increase outreach to people who use drugs in parks and connect them to local community-based health and social service organizations

NYC Parks and the Health Department will begin installing more than 60 syringe disposal kiosks in select Bronx parks this month as part of a plan to reduce the prevalence of discarded syringes. The plan is part of HealingNYC, the City’s initiative to combat the opioid epidemic. NYC Parks and local syringe exchange programs will deploy staff with blood-borne pathogen training to regularly empty, clean and disinfect kiosks. In addition to installing kiosks, the City is working with local syringe exchange programs to increase outreach to people who use drugs in Bronx parks, providing overdose prevention education, information on health and social services, and distributing personal syringe containers.

“Providing these safe disposal units builds on the City’s harm reduction work to reach those who need help with substance misuse, while keeping our parks safe and clean for everyone,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts. “The City is committed to making sure all New Yorkers have an opportunity to safely enjoy the City’s beautiful parks.”

"This collaboration between NYC Parks and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is another important tool in our Administration's ongoing work to disrupt the opioid epidemic," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. "This localized response to a community need in the Bronx will not only keep our parks cleaner and safer but will also increase outreach to people who use drugs, in order to connect them with treatment and services."

“Everyone deserves parks that are safe and clean,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Our goal is to protect park-goers and to offer a helping hand to those struggling with addiction. This plan will mirror the efforts of cities like Vancouver and Seattle, which have seen considerable success.”

“This program will connect people who use drugs in Bronx parks to important information and services to prevent a fatal overdose,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Collaborating with NYC Parks is part of our comprehensive plan to address the opioid epidemic and help keep all New Yorkers safe, including people who use drugs.”

This plan was developed by a City task force—comprised of NYC Parks, the Health Department, the New York Police Department, the Department of Homeless Services and community-based health and social service organizations—which formed in response to persistent syringe disposal and drug use in parks. On average, Parks staff pick up nearly 5,000 needles per week across all parks in the Bronx. The parks that will receive kiosks are those with the greatest syringe presence. All kiosks will be locked and have signage encouraging safe syringe disposal and promoting addiction services.

Kiosks will be installed in the following parks:
• St. Mary’s Park
• Tremont Park
• Crotona Park
• Ryan Triangle
• People’s Park
• Concrete Plant Park
• Rainey Park
• Claremont Park
• Franz Sigel Park
• Clark Playground
• Garrison Playground
• Patterson Playground
• Nelson Playground
• Aqueduct Walk
• Echo Park
• University Woods

Through HealingNYC, the City has committed $60 million annually to reduce opioid overdose deaths in the city, including strategies to prevent opioid misuse and addiction, connect people in need to effective treatment, and reduce the supply of dangerous opioids. Syringe disposal kiosks are another tool to reduce the harm associated with opioid misuse. Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio announced the City’s support for the opening of four private Overdose Prevention Centers, including one in the Bronx, which will save lives by ensuring that New Yorkers struggling with substance abuse have clean needles and are connected to treatment.

More New Yorkers die from opioid overdoses than from car crashes, suicides and homicides combined. In 2017, more than 1,100 people in New York City died in a drug overdose involving an opioid, the highest year on record.

“As the opioid crisis continues to affect our families, we need to do everything in our power to increase services for those struggling with addiction and minimize the impact it has on our community,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I thank NYC Parks and the Health Department for launching an initiative to keep our parks safe and clean, while increasing outreach and awareness of the resources available to prevent tragic overdose deaths and encourage a healthy road to recovery.”

“Installing safe syringe disposal kiosks throughout our parks is a step in the right direction as this will help clean up our parks while ensuring a healthier and safer environment for residents to enjoy, said New York State Assembly Member Victor Pichardo. “I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Silver for their efforts in addressing this undeniable health concern in our communities and promoting a better Bronx.”

“I commend the HealingNYC initiative, the Parks Department and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their leadership in bringing syringe disposal kiosks to 16 of our Bronx parks.” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Chair of the Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction Committee. “Our parks are for everyone to enjoy safely, and having a plan in place to address the overwhelming number of syringes found there is absolutely essential in decreasing the risk of blood-born illnesses like HIV and Hepatitis. Equally important is the partnership and outreach component with syringe exchange programs to provide education and hope to people who inject drugs. This collaboration and commitment by the City will have a tremendous positive impact on both the environment and the residents of the Bronx.”

“The opioid crisis and high numbers of overdose deaths demand widespread involvement and coordinated responses,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera. “This crisis touches everyone—whether through the addiction of friends and family members or the impact on public safety and public health. I commend NYC Parks and Recreation for stepping up to this challenge by making our parks safer with disposal kiosks that protect public health and trained staff to connect those who use drugs in parks to health and social services.”

“Syringe disposal kiosks will provide a safe resource for needle disposal in our parks. Expanded community outreach, in addition to the installation of these kiosks, will be important for our neighbors struggling with addiction, and will make our parks safer and cleaner for everyone,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“The syringe kiosk disposal plan is a much-needed resource for my community and having a secure, contained and accessible disposal is a good step towards eliminating syringes in our parks,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr.

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