Madison Elementary recently collaborated with Thurston County Health to produce a Stop! Don’t Touch! Get an Adult! messaging campaign around hazards that are becoming commonplace in the neighborhood, such as broken glass, syringes, and discarded clothing (which often contains sharps). “Don’t put your hands in places you can’t see such as blankets, jackets, or garbage.”
The informational letter and flyer went home to parents and was also sent from the Olympia School District via email.
A vacuum truck cleaned out the areas underneath the hedgerow and trees, where a combination of fall leaves mixed with discarded alcohol containers and likely drug paraphernalia lurked. The campus had been vacated for several months for construction repairs, and students and staff celebrated what must have felt like a second ‘first day of school’ after the new year began.
The school has obtained secure sharps containers from Thurston County for proper disposal, and staff will receive some additional training. A second check of the grounds has been built into the daily routine to inspect for such hazards. Improved lighting is being discussed as a preventative measure.
Credit goes to Principal Domenico Spatolla Knoll for his leadership on a safety issue and difficult topic that no school administrator should have to deal with.
While it is disappointing that limited district resources and energy have to be spent on preventing contact with biohazards, it has become unfortunately necessary. Several syringes have been found on walking routes to the school in recent days. As our latest posts reveal, Olympia City Parks in and around the Eastside are showing a disturbing amount of the nasty debris, especially for winter. Increasing awareness will help keep kids safe not only on school grounds, but also where they walk and play in the surrounding neighborhood when class is not in session.
Hopefully we will see more successful collaborations like this in our community to raise awareness about the serious drug epidemic and related crime currently affecting Olympia.
Blocks from the Capitol Campus, where the I-5 Bike Trail intersects Henderson Bvld, there is a heroin encampment that is presenting a growing public safety and environmental concern.
Empty 10-packs of syringes lay in the middle of the trail itself, and broken bottles and uncapped needles protrude from the margins of the trail, presenting a nasty biohazardous landing for anyone who happens to fall off of a bike or who strays too close to the edge of the pavement.
An increasing amount of graffiti vandalism marks the trail surrounding the camp. The camp itself is filled with an incredible amount of discarded clothing, litter, needles and empty alcohol containers. Some apparently stolen mail/packages were observed littered on the trail here by one resident last weekend. A back-of-the-envelope calculation analyzing the needle debris clearly demonstrates that there is a sufficient amount of money being spent on drugs.
The existence and proliferation of this encampment may be due to its location. It is likely a happenstance exploitation of jurisdictional confusion. After reporting concern about the area, the responsibility for maintenance of this piece of turf was a source of puzzlement for several local agencies themselves. The I-5 Bike Trail straddles property of WA DOT and the Olympia Public Works facility, although many folks may assume that this local trail is part of Olympia City Parks or perhaps maintained by the General Administration of the Capitol Campus.
Like recent reports surrounding the public safety issues of Sylvester Park by The Olympian, jurisdictional issues between the many government entities in Olympia will have to be strategically ironed out before the impending summer narco-tourism season hits. Our quality of life, public safety, and enjoyment of our greenspaces depend on it.
We hope cleanup of this site will become a priority before remediation costs escalate. We sincerely hope that future trashing of public lands in Olympia’s core by addicts can be prevented by better monitoring of our urban trails. Perhaps the growing ranks of the Clean Team can spread the radius of its sunshine a little further out one day per week on such projects. Regardless, the downward spiral of heroin and other IV drug-use will surely consume more and more resources until the issue is addressed with vigor; the silence and excuses by the community must stop.