OLYMPIA — A city employee had to get tested this week after getting stuck by a hypodermic needle found in one of Olympia’s parks. Used needles are becoming a problem in the city and 207 of them have been picked up since the beginning of August.
“A lot of times it’s in the restrooms,” park maintenance manager Jonathon Turlove said. “It’s also in vegetated areas.”
He doesn’t know why the problem has increased, but park employees are trying to combat it.
“In problem areas, we’ve done a lot of projects to trim back vegetation, make it less attractive to camp out or hide behind bushes and use drugs.”
They’re also increasing their safety procedures.
“We keep reminding ourselves to be extra vigilant, don’t put our hands where we can’t see.”
Parks officials are worried about children or other park users being at risk.
“We’re working closely with the Olympia Police Department to do increased patrols of our parks,” Turlove said.
Luis Allende, who brought his kids to Percival Landing to play soccer Thursday afternoon, saw a needle in the water by the marina. He’s concerned, but said the only way to really make the parks safer is to provide more resources and treatment options for drug addicts.
“I don’t want to see that little picture, I want to see the big picture. And the big picture is the government is not taking responsibility,” Allende said.
Thurston County has a needle exchange program, but it only operates a few days a week.