City to stomp out rats at 33 Bushwick, Bed-Stuy schools
Schools are major breeding grounds, ‘rat diners’
Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant may be home to artists and hipsters, but they are also the most rat-infested neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
Now the city is taking its war on rats to the vermin living off mountains of trash produced at more than 33 schools in the area.
With schools providing breakfast, lunch and snacks, they produce a tremendous amount of waste and are a major food source for rats in the surrounding community, according to Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office.
The experience of local residents backs her up.
“There are about 40 of them living in my stoop,” said one Brooklyn Eagle staffer, a resident of Bushwick who lives next to P.S. 120. “It’s disgusting. I hear them having conversations, squeaking.” She added that her dog constantly lunges after rats when she takes him on walks.
Another resident called the unprotected garbage bags from school trash ‘rat diners.’
Bushwick/Bed-Stuy represents one of three mitigation zones targeted in the city’s $32 million Neighborhood Rat Reduction plan to shrink the city’s rat population, announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in July. The other areas include the Grand Concourse area of the Bronx and Chinatown/East Village/Lower East Side.
The initiative aims to reduce rat activity by up to 70 percent in the targeted zones by minimizing food sources and available habitats.
Lapeyrolerie said it was better to use a targeted approach with rats rather than a broad and shallow one.
“Rats only need a limited amount of food to survive, and don’t travel more than a mile in their lifetimes. So we do a very targeted effort,” she said. “Obviously, schools are hot spots.”
The city is focusing on major rat breeding grounds including NYC housing projects, parks and individual landlords, and is changing trash laws so there will be less trash on the streets, Lapeyrolerie added.
Efforts include cementing dirt basements in NYCHA projects, purchasing rat-proof solar powered trash compactors, increasing trash pickup and increasing enforcement of rat-related violations in these areas.
“Take away any potential rat habitation and food, and the population will drop,” she said.
The school mitigation efforts will include:
* New waste containers: The city will purchase 18 roll-on/roll-off compacting dumpsters and 569 tilt trucks to allow waste to be stored off the sidewalk at the 113 schools in the three zones. The city will also purchase 16,188 in-school waste receptacles to help properly sort garbage and organics.
* New school construction guidelines: City agencies and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability will work together to develop design guidelines to ensure that all newly built schools have waste management solutions that deny rats food.
If any city resident is experiencing a rat infestation, regardless of where they live, they should call 311, Lapeyrolerie said.
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