SPRINGDALE, Ohio -- A van that offers a needle exchange to help curb the spreading of disease will have to find a new home after a Springdale city council vote and decision from the mayor Wednesday night.
The van, run by the Cincinnati Exchange Program, began setting up on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Olde Gate Plaza in February. The program's goal is to make the drug-using community healthier and increase treatment.
Participants get a clean syringe for every 'dirty' one, according to the website. "Participants will also receive education on safer sex, safer injection use and where to get drug treatment and medical care," the website reads.
Council members felt it was too close to homes and businesses, and voted 5 - 4 to move the van out of Springdale by March 31. Nearby residents are happy about the decision, having been worried the van might draw crime, drug addicts and potentially damage the city's image.
Springdale resident Kyle Wallace said he has to walk by the van to and from school.
"I do not feel comfortable walking past a place where addicts can regain what they've been using," Wallace said.
Dr. Judith Feinberg, professor of medicine at University of Cincinnati and medical director of the Cincinnati Exchange Project, said the van helped 24 people so far, all who were addicted to heroin.
"You can take dirty needles and get a clean one, and that helps encourage people not to share them because that's how diseases are spread," Feinberg said. "They don't increase crime, they don't increase addiction. In fact, they decrease addiction because sooner or later people get to trust you, and say 'I can't do this anymore,' and you get them to rehab."
Sharonville resident Stefan Settles supported the van's mission.
"I'm all for (the van) to keep diseases down," he said. "No big deal as long as it's legit."
No decision was made on the next location of the van, if it moves anywhere at all.
WCPO's Amy Wadas attended the city council meeting for this report.