Barbour Playground cleanup is under way

July 6, 2011 4:38:42 AM PDT
From a distance, Barbour Playground in Paterson, New Jersey, looks fantastic. But taking a closer look, it is apparent why it is deserted on a beautiful summer day.

The park is littered with discarded drug paraphernalia, like used hypodermic needles and discarded bags of crack.

"This is a park for kids and there's no one here but adults, junkies, drug addicts, drug dealers," Paterson resident Carmen Torres said.

The kids who do play in Barbour Park learn quickly to stay away. Linda Camacho got stuck with a needle there when she was 12.

"I fell and my hands went through the dirt, and I fell into a needle that had no cap," the now-15-year-old said. "And it went into my hand, and I brought it to my mom and she took it out."

Barbour Park got the new playground about three years ago. Since then, it's become a haven for addicts, who leave their heroin wrappers, dirty needles, medicine bottles and liquor bottles behind.

"The park is for them to play, not to slide down and land on a needle or broken glass," Paterson resident Kimberly Edwards said.

Eyewitness News called Paterson's newly-elected Mayor Jeffrey Jones to tell him about the hazards in the city park. Within an hour, he was there himself, cleaning up the bottles and needles.

"This is unacceptable under any standard," Jones said.

A large public works crew showed up and began the huge job of cleaning up the forgotten park. The mayor has demanded an immediate review from his Department of Public Works about why this situation, which was so obvious to Eyewitness News, was ignored.

Mayor Jones wants to clean up the neighborhood too. He also called police, who arrested at least one person in a suspected crack house across the street.

Public works employees spent hours this afternoon cleaning up the park so kids can enjoy it for the first time this summer.