Mayor de Blasio Announces $750,000 Investment to Tackle Rat Hot Spots on the Upper West Side

September 28, 2017

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a $750,000 investment dedicated to tackling rat hot spots on the Upper West Side. This interagency effort will reduce rat activity in targeted playgrounds, parks and schools by implementing better waste containers, more pest control efforts and increased enforcement of food disposal violations.  

This integrated pest management approach will build on the success of the City’s current rat abatement programs by using similar strategies of targeted removal of available food sources and habitats on the Upper West Side. Previous efforts have led to an 80 to 90 percent drop in rat activity and similar results are expected from this initiative. 

“Parents should never have to worry about rats infesting parks, playgrounds or schools,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This new investment will make these areas less hospitable to rats and more livable for families in the neighborhood.”

“Kids deserve safe, clean parks and playgrounds with a minimum of rodent contamination. We are grateful that the Mayor is assisting the Upper West Side in its fight with these rats at the source, by funding the deployment of enhanced waste containers and trash collection in area rat hot spots,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.

“We are dedicated to providing all students with a great education and that starts with safe and clean learning environments,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.“This funding will help us build on our ongoing work and we thank our partners across City agencies for their support to address facilities concerns in this area head-on.”

“The physical environment is an essential component of neighborhood health,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We are pleased to build upon our collaboration with the New York City Parks Department and the Department of Education to intensify our efforts in the parks and schools located in the two rat reservoir areas in Community District 7. We are optimistic that by redoubling our efforts and working in partnership with the community, we’ll successfully reduce rat activity in this area.”

To reduce the rat population at parks, playgrounds and schools on the Upper West Side, the de Blasio Administration will implement the following new efforts in targeted Upper West Side parks and schools:

  • New waste containers: The City will install 29 solar compactors and four solid steel cans to replace wire baskets at eight playgrounds and parks. Solar compactors restrict access to trash with a “mailbox” opening and have resulted in 90 percent rat reductions when fully deployed in concentrated areas. The City will also purchase roll-on/roll-off compacting dumpsters to allow waste to be stored off the sidewalk at schools.
  • Ramped-up enforcement of rat-related violations: The Parks Department will issue summonses to park vendors who are not following regulations designed to mitigate food management issues. Parks Enforcement Patrol and Urban Park Rangers will deploy daily through November 30 in the selected Upper West Side parks and playgrounds. Parks Department staff will also educate residents and vendors on how littering and feeding pigeons helps to grow and sustain the rat population.
  • Increase baiting efforts: Parks and Health Department staff will work to place bait stations, plug burrows and prune greenery so as to not provide rats shelter in parks. This concentrated effort to harass rat burrows throughout the fall will help increase natural population declines seen in the winter.
  • More pest-control staff: The Parks Department will hire an exterminator and three parks workers will be dedicated to Upper West Side parks.

This plan will target the following 12 playgrounds, parks, and schools on the Upper West Side where there have been significant rat issues:

Parks

  • Henry Neufeld Playground
  • River Run Playground
  • Hippo Playground
  • Dinosaur Playground
  • Joan of Arc Memorial
  • Theodore Roosevelt Park
  • Diana Ross Playground
  • Booker T. Washington Playground

Schools

  • P.S. 75 Emily Dickinson
  • P.S. 165 Robert E. Simon
  • M.S. 54 Booker T. Washington
  • P.S. 811 Mickey Mantle

This plan builds on the Administration’s previous efforts to manage rodent populations across the City. In 2014, the Health Department piloted the Rat Reservoir program in six sites, including one in the Upper West Side. The Rat Reservoir program is a data driven approach that identifies and targets rat colonies and conditions conducive to rats in sidewalks, catch basins, tree pits, and parks, in addition to buildings. In the first year of the pilot program, the Department’s efforts in the areas resulted in an 80 to 90 percent drop in active rat signs.

In 2015, Mayor de Blasio increased funding by $2.9 million to expand the City’s Rat Reservoir Program. The investment expanded the pilot program from the original six sites to 45 areas around the city, including the Upper West Side.  Department of Health case managers now work closely with neighborhoods to identify problematic properties and design targeted rat management plans.  These new resources for the Upper West Side build on this targeted approach. The Department of Health will continue to monitor neighborhoods to evaluate the success of the program.

"It doesn't make headlines or win awards, but rat reduction is one of the most important things city government can do to improve quality of life, safeguard public health, and reclaim public spaces," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I am pleased that the mayor has made rat reduction a priority and look forward to seeing these investments in action."

"Eliminating rats from our public spaces is an absolute public health and safety priority. We are attacking this problem from several angles, especially the rapid removal and sealed containment of all trash in our playgrounds, plazas and other areas so that food sources are eliminated. I want to thank the de Blasio administration and the Department of Health in particular for their ongoing partnership and focus on this urgent issue. We will not rest until the problem is fully addressed," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“The rats plaguing our streets are by far one of the most persistent quality of life issues facing our community. Implementing new solid steel cans, in addition to hiring three new parks workers and an exterminator is a vital step towards attacking the root of this problem. I’m incredibly grateful to the Mayor for his commitment to improving the quality of life here Northern Manhattan,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

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