O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
If you build it he will come. The famous line from Field of Dreams. Manchester has its version of Field of Dreams. It is called Safe Station 7.0. With the boom of heroin overdoses in 2016 in Manchester the fire department rolled out Safe Stations 1.0 program whereby a person suffering from addiction can come into any firehouse and request assistance with their addiction. While on paper this concept is a genuine attempt to address this crisis, along with it came unintended consequences; influx of homeless addicts to a city already bursting at the seams.
Today we see roughly 50 percent of those served by Safe Station 7.0 in Manchester coming from out of town. While addiction is not prohibited by boundaries we have to understand when you provide a unique service you have to deal with the unintended consequences. In this case we have people being transported from all over the state and out of state to a city that cannot handle the influx. These very same people are left on their own and now find themselves in a city they do not know, have no assistance, and homeless. This adds to the already overburdened city services and has an impact on the quality of life here in Manchester.
To hear politicians playing the blame game when those very same politicians blamed the former Mayor of Manchester for the exact same issue is somewhat hypocritical. In the 2015 and 2017 campaigns, the current Mayor blamed the former Mayor for not doing enough. Now she is the current Mayor and points the finger at the Governor. Maybe the reality is no politician can solve addiction issues. Maybe the reality is when running for office it is easy to sit back and blame your opponent for issues no politician can fix.
Today we have our city services overburdened with people from outside the city. Today we have a serious quality of life issue in Manchester, especially the downtown area. We have business owners who are at their wit’s end trying to deal with homeless people camping out in front of their restaurants and shops. We have a local park overrun with addicts and homeless while children are participating in band camp nearby. We have needles on the streets and in our parks.
The time has come to end the experiment called Safe Stations 7.0. Firefighters are not drug counselors. Firefighters are overburdened enough by the horrific calls they arrive at whether it be a fire, traffic accident with victims or an overdose. We have a police department utilizing all the tools in their tool belt to deal with those intent on breaking the law. It is time to tell other surrounding towns and neighboring states they have to step up to the plate. They have to provide services for those within their community.
Manchester cannot continue to add to the already burdened city services and the time has come to say we just can’t do it anymore. Local politicians blaming State officials during local elections smacks of politicization of the issue….and that needs to stop.
During the last Mayoral campaign our current Mayor said this during a debate with Mayor Gatsas, “I think it’s wrong to bury our head in the sand and say everything is great.” NHPR November 2, 2017.
Well Mayor, I couldn’t agree more. Let’s stop burying our heads in the sand and address the issues we can address and stop the finger-pointing. Politicians can’t solve the addiction problem but politicians can stop promoting programs that attract people to the City.
If you build it he will come. Well, we built it, they came, and this has impacted the quality of life in the City of Manchester for years to come. Today its heroin. Tomorrow it’s Meth. Politicians can’t solve addiction.
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Michael Porter is a candidate for Ward 8 Alderman.