New needle exchange site set to open near Louisville elementary school

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An empty lot along Bicknell Avenue will soon become a place addicts can find the city's needle exchange program once a week. 

It will be the third site Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness has opened for the program, but reaction in this area has been mixed. 

"There's got to be a better place for this than right here," said Rev. Owen Sheroan, who is with nearby Churchman Chapel Ministries. 

Some neighbors told WDRB they didn't know about the needle exchange, while others were okay with the idea. 

Sheroan is among those concerned with the location. 

"I think it's just going to create more activity with drugs in the area," he explained. 

He says this part of south Louisville is already a hot spot for drugs but health officials say that's the reason they're setting up the site here. 

They say the goal of the program is to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C among I-V drug users and to offer testing and referrals to treatment. 

"About 20 percent of our participants right now that are driving all the way up here to our main site are coming from that zip code and surrounding areas," said Public Health and Wellness Interim Director Dr. Sarah Moyer. 

"It shouldn't be made convenient for them by putting our children in danger and forcing to see things," said Danielle Bishop, who says the lot is too close to Hazelwood Elementary School.  

She had planned to enroll two of her kids in the elementary school next year but says that could now change. 

"I am absolutely concerned with having to move my children and it absolutely is something I will do," Bishop told WDRB News. 

JCPS Spokesperson Allison Martin the district is aware of the issue and has expressed concerns to the city. 

When asked about the school proximity, Moyer said the needle exchange will help get dirty needles off the street and that could in turn make the neighborhood safer. 

She also says the department hasn't had any problems at their other sites. 

"We get 300 participants a week right here at Gray Street and no one even realizes it so hopefully with the smaller site no one will notice the impact," Moyer told WDRB News. 

The Bicknell Avenue site will be open on Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and will be run by Volunteers of America. 

Health officials say so far, more than 2,000 people have used the city's needle exchange program

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