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Wisnewski wants Council to fight drug problem

Calls for reopening Greenfield’s teen center

Mark Wisnewski, President
Recorder/Micky Bedell

Mark Wisnewski, President Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

GREENFIELD — Town Council President Mark Wisnewski, who is up for re-election in a little less than two weeks, said Thursday Town Council needs to be proactive when it comes to the opiate crisis facing Greenfield right now.

“The Town Council should play a role in bringing more resources to bear on this dangerous threat to our community’s health,” said Wisnewski, who if re-elected, would serve another three years as an at-large councilor, and possibly one more year as president.

He released a multi-point plan in a press statement released Thursday.

He said the town should re-open its teen center on Sanderson Street, form an ad hoc committee to study and look at ways the town can partner with state and federal addiction initiatives, provide more funding for public safety, enhance health education in public schools and beyond, and focus on public housing.

“I have heard from a number of talented Greenfield residents who want to be engaged on this issue,” said Wisnewski. “This is a family issue with some clear momentum behind it, and we need to take advantage of the unprecedented interest welling up in our community.”

Wisnewski said the former teen center building at 20 Sanderson St. was given to the town with a 99-year lease, not with the intention of being used for town offices as it is currently, but as a community center. He said it should be returned to its proper use, which would include a teen center where teens could go when they have nothing to do.

“Part of fighting drug addiction is giving young people a structured place to go,” said Wisnewski.

He said forming an ad hoc committee would allow the town to examine its needs and investigate all possible resources. He said, for instance, “everyone agrees now that Greenfield needs to reopen a detox center and $100,000 has been set aside by the state Legislature for a coordinator position.”

Wisnewski said an ad hoc committee could focus some attention on making that happen.

He said an ad hoc committee could also create a townwide plan, which would include recommending how many more police officers are needed to fight the opiate problem and what that cost would be to the town.

Wisnewski said he would like to see public schools more involved in drug education and prevention.

“Health education classes need to be restored in all Greenfield Middle School classes, with a clear drug and substance abuse prevention curriculum,” he said.

Wisnewski said the town also needs to take advantage of the Safe Schools Smart Schools grant it has received, which helps schools coordinate with agencies dealing with substance abuse.

He said an ad hoc committee should be charged with focusing on public housing issues and Greenfield’s specific needs. He said the committee would work with other groups and agencies to look at what kind of housing the town needs for people coming out of short-term detox, as well as what has worked for other communities.

He said he will push for a Town Council work group that would solicit members from throughout Greenfield, not a committee made up of just Council members.

“We will find new paths to pursue against this killer in our community,” said Wisnewski. “Our future well-being as a community depends on it.”

He said more solutions will come out of heightened visibility of the local opiate problem.

Wisnewski is being challenged by former At-large Councilor Isaac Mass for his seat in the town’s June 10 annual election.

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