PALMER — In his last act as a member of the Palmer City Council, interim council member Imran Chaudhry submitted a proposal to help make the city of Palmer a safer place. Chaudhry made a motion during the council’s election certification meeting on Monday to schedule a discussion on the Oct. 22 agenda for dirty needle cleanup within the city of Palmer.
Chaudhry was selected by the six sitting council members in August following a lengthy selection process after former Deputy Mayor Pete LaFrance moved out of the country. Chaudhry was not initially among the candidates selected for questioning by the council, but was eventually selected partially due to the fact that he was not running in the October election. With just over a month-long term to serve on the council, Chaudhry got to work. Chaudhry’s proposal will be sponsored by Councilwoman Sabrena Combs as it comes before the council later in October.
“The fact that dirty needles are becoming more and more common is definitely a concern and if something can be done to remedy that, I fully support it,” said Palmer Police Chief Lance Ketterling.
Chaudhry consulted administrators at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Ketterling, and others to gather input on how the ordinance would be received. Chaudhry is currently enrolled in classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage, but had worked for the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association. Chaudhry hopes that the AAAA can park its mobile dropoff unit in the parking lot shared by City Hall and the MSRMC Urgent Care Clinic in Palmer. Chaudhry was astounded by the amount of dirty hypodermic needles dropped off at the mobile unit in Anchorage over the summer, and hopes that a dirty needle dropoff will increase the health and safety of the citizens of Palmer. Chaudhry was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of other members of the council and community to his plan.
“Every single one of them were for it,” said Chaudhry. “I thought it was going to be really contentious, it was the complete opposite.”
If the mobile unit is not possible within the city of Palmer, Chaudhry’s plan is to have biohazard disposal boxes positioned throughout Palmer.
“It could really have a positive impact on the community by way of cleaning the streets,” said Chaudhry.