SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Hypodermic needles are clogging toilets in one of the most popular public parks in the city.
City hall has a plan to fix the problem. But critics worry it’ll just flush taxpayer dollars down the toilet.
The plan would invest thousands of taxpayer dollars into the McKinley Park bathroom. It would be on top of the $200,000 the city paid to build the bathroom a few years back.
Parents say more money won’t change the reality that their children are playing around drug-infested needles.
“Obviously there are drug addicts in the bathrooms,” said Eric Aafedt.
He doesn’t like letting his little girl use those bathrooms.
“My daughter needs to go sometimes, so we bring wipes and stuff,” he said.
But the city says not even disinfectant wipes can clean up this mess.
City-provided pictures reveal hypodermic needles stuck in one of the pumps that are supposed to keep waste flowing into the underground sewer system.
“We counted I believe about 30 syringes,” said Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris.
Mckinley Park is in Harris’ district. The last time the toilets there clogged, just a few months ago, Harris called for porta-potties in the park.
“It was a shock to me to learn that Mckinley Park, a working class to affluent neighborhood, there was a real drug use problem in the neighborhood. The fact of the matter is it’s a problem citywide,” said Harris.
Now Harris has a solution: A mechanical grinder built into the sewer system that could crush anything like a garbage disposal.
But it would cost $50,000, and critics aren’t buying it.
“The real fundamental problem is lack of security in city parks,” said Craig Powell with the watchdog group Eye on Sacramento. “The city parks department employees a whole team of park rangers that are supposed to keep safe our city parks but they do no such thing.”
“Our park rangers do a great job. The problem is, we don’t have enough of them,” Harris said.
And he says, adding park rangers comes with a hefty price tag. We checked. The city now has a total of seven park rangers assigned to 227 city parks, at a cost of $840,000 per year.
But a single grinder?
“$50,000 in terms of the city budget is a very small number,” said Harris.
For Aafedt, it’s taxpayer dollars down the toilet.
“Grind up their needles…are you kidding me? That’s a joke,” said Eric Aafedt.
But the city council isn’t laughing.
Councilmembers will talk about the grinder proposal in Tuesday’s council meeting.