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SeaTac City Council member gets stuck by discarded needle in city park

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SEATAC -- A member of the SeaTac City Council had to go to the hospital after getting pricked by a needle at a city park. She says something needs to be done, to make sure no one else gets hurt.

“Watch where you step, there is broken glass and stuff here,” says Pam Fernald, as she walks through North SeaTac Park.

She says there are areas that look like they used to be homeless encampments throughout the park.

“It’s garbage and it’s hazardous waste.”

Last weekend while taking part in a volunteer cleanup, she found a container full of discarded needles.

“I’ve been saying for a while that this stuff that’s here is not safe. Then I get stuck.”

After Fernald went to the hospital to get checked out, she decided she had to do something drastic.

“What makes people pay attention? Money.”

So she told the City Council she’s willing to give up her $12,000 annual salary to get the park cleaned up. We asked city manager Todd Cutts if she can do that.

“It’s certainly possible that she could donate the proceeds from her salary to the city of SeaTac,” he says. “Our council would have to approve that donation, just like they would any other donation, if she wanted to earmark it for those purposes.”

But Cutts says the city is already working on a plan to clean up the homeless encampments.

“We’ll be going out with our Human Services manager as well as the Police Department, and we’re going to trespass those folks. Because they just can’t sleep there for public safety and public health reasons.”

He admits it will take time to come up with a long-term plan to keep the park clean and safe, but he says it is a priority for the city.

“We’ve dealt with the issues at that park, in terms of homeless encampments and litter in the past, and we’ll continue to do so in the future.”

Fernald hopes so. She says right now, she doesn’t feel comfortable bringing her own family here.

“I have a great niece and nephew. I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying, let’s go and have a picnic,” she says. “It’s just not right. This is not what parks are supposed to be like.”

The city manager says he is looking at the budget to see if the city can bring in outside resources to help with the park cleanup. He’s hoping to have an update for the city council by the end of the month.

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4 comments

  • Trisha

    I will donate my weekends to get the park cleaned up if necessary. I’ve always been apprehensive about going to certain parks and always wanted to help clean them up.

  • Janice Taylor

    What this story does not mention is that Ms. Fernald brought this matter to the attention of the City council, and Mr. Cutts feigned ignorance of a problem area Ms. Fernald and citizens have been talking about for years. When she offered to give up her salary, acting Mayor Mia Gregerson gaveled the meeting and declared a 10 minute recess during which they pressured Ms. Fernald to rescind her offer and state the City Manager was working on a plan. Also, Ms. Fernald asked that this story not be about her and the needle prick, but the condition of the park. Anyone interested in knowing more about this can access the video of the April 28th council meeting via the City of Seatac web site, and read Jack Mayne’s article on the Seatac Blog.

  • tootietuttle

    good thing you have those needle exchanges set up by local governments…i guess city parks are more convenient…