Used Needles A Growing Problem on Church Street

Published 08/08 2014 06:27PM

Updated 08/08 2014 06:51PM

 BURLINGTON, Vt. - You can find all Kinds of household appliances at Homeport on Church Street but in the store's back alley you sometimes find something less appealing.

“We haven't seen a pile of them but we've seen needles discarded back here,” store manager Mark Bouchett said.

Right underneath the stairwell next to the door Bouchett picks up then disposes of used needles. It’s hardly the only place in the Church Street area that needles have been found.

Click here to see a map off Used Needle Sitings

“I've never seen anybody doing drugs back here but you see the needles and it creeps you out,” Bouchett said.

It certainly keeps families on Church Street aware of their surroundings.

“We can let them kind of do this kind of thing climbing on the rocks,” Stacy Myers said looking at her kids.

 “But if there are needles around it's probably a little bit more attentive.”

“It's significant. We’re seeing things out there in the community,” City Councilor Selene Colburn said.

Colburn is heading up the Needle Disposal Feasibility Working Group that's looking into whether Burlington should add new sites for needle disposal and how to keep people from trashing them on Church Street.

“Where they’re really finding things in the Marketplace is a little bit in bathrooms and also behind buildings,” Colburn said.

“So they’re looking at some of the architectural design and lighting can do to also de-incentivize some of those locations.”

Some marketplace employees also said it's not uncommon to find needles and that they see them by dumpsters all the time. They said typically what they do is put them in plastic bottles and then throw them in the trash.

But that's not up to the standards required by the Vermont Department of Health, which suggests that people put them in heavy duty empty laundry detergent or bleach containers.

The feasibility group plans to hear from more Church Street business owners soon about what can be done to keep needles off the marketplace and away from families.

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