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.

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