With Mayor Joyce Craig still without a clear and coherent plan for dealing with the combined drug and homeless problem (the two are very much related), Alderman-at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur may be right. It may be time to close the Fire Department’s much-heralded and much-used Safe Stations program.
We respect Fire Chief Dan Goonan’s concerns about such a move. He believes it may increase drug overdose deaths. But Manchester alone cannot be looked upon to address the whole state’s opioid addiction woes.
That is what has happened, and the new “hub-and-spoke” state system has not resulted in any material effect on the numbers of non-residents coming to city fire stations.
Safe Stations worked, in that it triaged all comers with no questions asked. It in fact worked too well. It is a brand that is familiar throughout the state, causing addicted individuals and their families to often think first of Manchester rather than resources closer to home.
It has been noted that a lot of these other “spokes” aren’t open 24-7, which is another reason why Safe Stations is such an appealing place.
Now that Tuesday’s city primary is behind us, no doubt Mayor Craig will produce all manner of solutions to the drug and homeless issues. Challenger Victoria Sullivan, without the big-money backing that Craig enjoys, will be hard-pressed to compete.
That makes it all the more important that Alderman Levasseur’s proposal be part of the discussion leading up to the November elections.