The drug and alcohol abuse among young teenagers in Northport has long been a problem. It is not new, nor is it new to the Northport’s William J. Brosnan School grounds adjacent to the local CVS drug store and directly across from the Northport Library.
When 30 and 40 year old residents who grew up here were interviewed, many knew of this area and stated that the school district did as well. Through the years and presently the properties where the school playground and CVS join has remained an active site for teens to gather with cover of foliage and a brick wall. Drug and alcohol abuse has been consistent for years said property neighbors who wish to remain unnamed.
In late September, prior to the high school homecoming football game, a large group of young teens were witnessed smoking what obviously smelt of pot on these grounds. That night an older man (perhaps in his mid to late 20’s) was witnessed buying medicine at the drug store adjacent to these grounds. When he left the store he walked directly into woods were the kids were hanging out. While this proves nothing except that he took a walk with medicine into the woods, it is not hard to guess what was transpiring.
Over the past several months groups of kids have been seen in this activity almost daily by locals. Lately, it has been noted that kids as young as 12 and 13 have been approaching the older teens in these groups. Recently there was a young man living in these woods and allegedly involved with drug use who had to be removed. This should be frightening to parents and officials alike.
Given what has been happening on these grounds for decades with little “effective” action from the school district or Northport Police Department, it has become clear why people do not come forward when they witness these activities. The local families and businesses have stated that they fear retribution from these kids if they are reported. Interviews with local residents and businesses adjacent to these properties confirm this. When the school repairs the fence separating the property from the CVS property, the kids tear it down again.
Last March CVS met with the Task Force and agreed to fence off and cut out the shrubs and vegetation in their property area the kids were using and had it done within one week. The school district then rolled out some old fencing to block off the long time opening in the fence, but this was immediately ripped down by the brazen teenagers who wished to use these properties for their own ends. Why effective monitoring by the school security, the drug store, and local police has not been implemented is a question everyone should ask.
Abuse and vandalism of these properties should not be tolerated. It has become common place and must be stopped. It is a sad state of affairs when the local residents and businesses are afraid, and the teenage drug users have free run of these grounds, which are right next to the public Library as well.
Members of the Northport East Northport Drug and Alcohol Task Force(NDATF) have periodically inspected these grounds for the past several months. Many pictures were taken of the drug and alcohol abuse paraphernalia littering the area and the vandalism caused by the kids who congregate here. The hope was to develop a collaborative effort from the Northport School District’s administrative leaders, security and grounds management, the Northport Police Department, and local CVS Drugs Store management to meet and find a solution which will secure these grounds from the continued drug and alcohol abuse. I
f a proactive plan can be implemented, it is hoped that many other community members will be inspired to join in the fight to keep our children safe from the dangers of all types of substance abuse. While there is no easy solution, securing this public area where our kids play would be an excellent start and perhaps an example for other local “Hot Spots” to be secured.
Since the end of September, school district, police, and CVS officials have been contacted by the Task Force and agree to meet and discuss working together to make this particular area more secure. It should be noted that beginning in October, the Northport School District has cleared shrubs and vegetation from much of the property next to the CVS eliminating any “hidden” activity and making it easier to patrol. They have begun fence repairs as well. This is a terrific start to what should be an ongoing collaborative effort to keep this area and others like it safe for our community to use it for its intended purpose, to benefit our children.
Scott Norcott, Northport Drug and Alcohol Task Force