Used needles in Garden District park raise concern

Used needles in Garden District park leave neighbors concerned

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some residents and workers in the Lower Garden District say they are concerned about the used needles being left in Coliseum Square Park, and while some longtime homeowners said the issue is on the decline, others say there’s still an issue.

Security Guard Captain Guy Bryant picked up used syringes in the park before his shift started Saturday (May 18).

“You can’t help but find them,” Bryant said.

While it welcomes families and dog owners by day, the father of seven said some use this park and another nearby to do drugs after hours, leaving behind dangerous debris.

“It is a great concern for these children because their parents could be sitting right there, and they’re running off over there. They grab a needle and the next thing you know, it’s stuck in them,” Bryant said.

Uptown resident and doctor John Marker said the issue is alarming and poses a public health hazard.

“Being a physician, that’s certainly a big concern," Marker said. “And I can think of nothing worse than a child walking in a park and getting a needle injury which could eventually lead to a devastating disease.”

Marker is renovating a home in the Lower Garden District and said he’s had problems with drug users on his property, too.

“They proceeded to leave the needles in the port-o-potties,” he said.

As his move-in date approaches, Marker said his concerns are becoming more urgent.

“It’s pretty distressing to me to think I would be sitting on my front porch and people are shooting up right there. In addition to that, the other health hazards of communicable diseases -- HIV, Hepatitis C, Marker said.

Derek Brown is a member of the parks committee for the Lower Garden District Association. He said he regularly walks his dogs Jezebel and Bucho in Coliseum Square and said “rough characters” are becoming less frequent there thanks to an increase in neighborhood participation and regular maintenance.

“It’s come a long way over the last 10 years, in particular,” Brown said.

Bryant admits the park used to be worse, but that doesn’t mean the problem has been solved.

“It was but, if you’re finding them again -- I found five last week -- no, it’s not getting better," Bryant said.

Which is why Bryant said he tries to make a habit of combing through the park before his shift begins, to look for needles and dispose of them properly.

“I think everyone who walks it should,” Bryant said.

FOX 8 reached out to the mayor’s office and the areas councilman, Jay Banks, but did not immediately get a response.

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