UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced a $750,000 investment dedicated to tackling rat hot spots on the Upper West Side.
The inter-agency 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 after reports of the rodents taking over areas in that region of Manhattan.
Officials hope the 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. They say 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," de Blasio said. "This new investment will make these areas less hospitable to rats and more livable for families in the neighborhood."
Related: Mayor pledges $32 million to reduce New York City rat population
To reduce the rat population at parks, playgrounds and schools on the Upper West Side, the de Blasio Administration will implement the following efforts in targeted Upper West Side parks and schools, according to a press release:
--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.
The plan will target the following 12 playgrounds, parks, and schools on the Upper West Side where there have been significant rat issues:
--Henry Neufeld Playground
--River Run Playground
--Joan of Arc Memorial
--Theodore Roosevelt Park
--Diana Ross Playground
--Booker T. Washington Playground
--P.S. 75 Emily Dickinson
--P.S. 165 Robert E. Simon
--M.S. 54 Booker T. Washington
--P.S. 811 Mickey Mantle
Verminated: City targets Upper West Side rat population in new initiative