War on rats in playgrounds
THE UPPER West Side’s playgrounds and schoolyards are the newest front in an age-old New York City war: mayor vs. rats.
“Our goal is to beat back the rats,” Mayor de Blasio said at a playground in Riverside Park plagued by the rodents, “and make these places safe and clean for everyone who uses them.”
The neighborhood’s pest plight reached a breaking point this summer when residents reported rats leaping into strollers and crowding out kids from sandboxes in playgrounds like the one de Blasio visited Thursday.
De Blasio said Hippo Park — named for the big hippo statues kids can climb atop and inside the mouths of — ought to be an oasis from city life.
“The last thing you need is to see a group of rats suddenly scurry into the picture,” he said, adding it is upsetting, unnerving and unhealthy. “And parents in particular should never have to worry about rats ending up in the same sandbox as their children. That is particularly unacceptable.”
The city will spend $750,000 targeting the clever critters at eight parks and four schools on the Upper West Side.
The battle plan calls for 29 solar compactor trash containers, which have a slot at the top and will replace the more easily infiltrated wire mesh trash cans. Trash receptacles at schools will also be upgraded to include compactors.
There will also be a crackdown on rat-related rulebreakers by the Parks Enforcement Patrol and Urban Park Rangers, who will issue summonses and educate residents and vendors on how littering and feeding birds can bring more rats.
Then there’s the more direct route: The Parks and Health Departments will increase their effort to kill the rats by placing bait stations. Parks crews will also plug burrows and prune greenery to make the green spaces less attractive to rats.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said the formula was a simple one.
“It’s not magic. It’s not even rocket science,” she said. “It’s no food, no rats.”
Mayor de Blasio vowed to “beat back the rats” that have been infesting Riverside Park playground, along with seven other parks and four schools on Upper West Side.