The following is a republished press release from the Tompkins County Public Library and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact me at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com

Ithaca, N.Y. – At its May 2016 meeting, the Board of Directors of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance voted to support the City of Ithaca Drug Policy proposed by Mayor Svante Myrick.

The Board, consisting of downtown property owners, businesses, residents, and community stakeholders, voted to support the policy and referenced a number of specific programs and policies that they believed would be most beneficial to the downtown and Ithaca communities.

The specific statement of support addressed each of the four pillars of the drug policy.

In the area of “prevention, the DIA expressed interest in working on efforts to improve teen and young adult access to constructive and formative mentorships, job training and readiness programs, apprenticeship programs, and a youth center(s).

In the area of “treatment”, the DIA favored a supportive center where people could go when under the influence. The DIA recognized the importance of access to detox centers, auxiliary services for mental health, and expansion of access to scripts for buprenorphine.

In the area of “harm reduction”, the DIA Board expressed interest not only in the health and safety of the drug user, but also the health and safety of the public. Hence, they were interested in efforts to ensure that syringes are properly disposed, and not left on the ground or in public bathrooms. They also wanted to be sure there are places where overdosing users can go, particularly for their own safety.

Finally, in the area of “law enforcement”, the DIA wanted to be certain this policy has the support of the Ithaca Police Department, recognizing that the illegal status of drug use will create hurdles for both the Police Department as well as the community drug policy and that implementation may require measured, incremental steps.

The statement also support for a “policy that can help addicts to avoid arrest through LEAD or diversion. We support effecting and facilitating forms of assistance that do not lead to criminal records, when appropriate and possible. ”

DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson noted that “drugs affect Downtown, just like in all other parts of the community and the DIA Board wanted to recognize the merit of a community wide drug policy that squarely and honestly addresses the issues facing both users and our community. We applaud Mayor Myrick for his leadership and are ready to do our part to help with this crucial community initiative”.

A Statement of Support from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance Board of Directors Regarding The Mayor’s Drug Policy:

After reviewing the Mayor Myrick’s Drug Policy for the City of Ithaca and receiving a presentation on the policy, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance Board of Directors offers its overall support for the Plan and its particular interest in the following areas for each pillar: 

–        For the “Prevention” pillar, we are interested in assisting in efforts to improve teen and young adult access to constructive and formative mentorships, job training and readiness programs, apprenticeship programs, and a youth center(s).

–        For the “Treatment” pillar, we are most interested in expanding the number of scripts for buprenorphine a doctor can issues annually as well as working to increase the number of doctors who can prescribe buprenorphine.  We are concerned about access to crisis and/or detox centers and the long waiting times for people seeking treatment. We see a similar issue with access to methadone and support efforts to find a local, possibly mobile solution. We therefore support efforts to expand auxiliary services including mental health and other public health facilities. We applaud the idea of a support center where people could go when under the influence to both provide a safe haven for users and to help create a community and family friendly street environment here in downtown.

–        For the “Harm Reduction” pillar, we are interested not only in the health and safety of the drug user, but also the health and safety of the public. Hence, we are interested in efforts to ensure that syringes are properly disposed, and not left on the ground or in public bathrooms. We want to be sure there are places where overdosing users can go particularly for their own safety.

–        For the “Law Enforcement” pillar, we want to be certain this policy has the support of the Ithaca Police Department, recognizing that the illegal status of drug use will create hurdles for both Police and the Policy and may require measured, incremental steps. We are also interested in how the policy can help addicts to avoid arrest through LEAD or diversion. We support effecting and facilitating forms of assistance that do not lead to criminal records, when appropriate and possible. 

Featured photo by Ed Dittenhoefer.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.