Newsday (Melville) (05.29.12) - Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Although a nonprofit serving HIV-positive Long Islanders
identified Freeport's need for a needle-exchange program
(NEP), community opposition will keep the group out of the
The Lindenhurst-based Long Island Minority AIDS Coalition
(LIMAC) deliberated placing a van at the intersection of North
Main Street and Brooklyn Avenue for drug injectors to exchange
used needles for clean ones.
LIMAC Exchange Director Tina Wolf maintains the coalition
targeted Freeport as an area where it could "have the most
impact." She said NEPs help halt HIV transmission by disposing
of used needles, and that LIMAC refers users to treatment
programs and other services. The New York health department's
Community Need Index lists Freeport's ZIP code as one of
Nassau County's most needy, considering factors including AIDS
cases, drug use, and teen pregnancy statistics.
However, residents learned of the plan and complained to LIMAC
and village officials that the van would draw crime to the
area. "Drug dealers are going to come because they've got
their customers and they've got their needles," said resident
Pat Rowen. Other residents, like Anthony Miller, saw the
benefit of the program, but agreed the matter should have come
"before the board [of trustees] first."
Village officials insisted they had not been sufficiently
consulted about LIMAC's planned Freeport presence, and they
questioned the coalition's right to station a van in a high-
traffic area without a permit. Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick
noted the coalition never approached him regarding such a
permit, which he considered "a blatant sign of disrespect."
Even though Wolf said local approval is not always necessary
to set up van programs, LIMAC Executive Director Rabia Aziz
said the coalition "will not go into any community that is not
supportive of the service, nor should we."