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August 18, 2011

At meeting on rats, recognition that the multi-faceted problem persists, especially near transit hub

Atlantic Yards Report

A community forum last night on rodent issues, hosted by Empire State Development and New York City Departments of Health and Sanitation, drew just a handful of residents, but their concerns indicated that, however welcome Forest City Ratner's offer of free heavy-duty garbage cans, rat problems in the area of the Atlantic Yards site will persist.

Notably, the street corners at and near Fourth and Atlantic avenues, heavily-used thoroughfares, overflow with garbage, which draws rats, and additional construction and project-related utility work on the streets exposes rats. A few attendees called on Council Member Steve Levin, who represents those blocks, to take action.

(Council Member Letitia James, who represents the north side of Flatbush Avenue, sent a representative, though Levin did not.)

One resident of Pacific Street between Fourth and Flatbush avenues said that "you have to walk shaking your keys" on the street at night to stave off rats. "Otherwise you hear people screaming" after they encounter the rodents.

She and a resident of Dean Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues both said there were severe problems on their street. Indicating the dicey relationship between homeowners and city agencies, both were reluctant to see their names published, fearing that they might be targeted for inspections, then fined if rat burrows were found.

Source of rats

City officials stressed there were multiple sources of and support for rats in the community, even as residents have put most of the blame on Forest City Ratner's major construction site.

At the Atlantic Yards project site, a state official acknowledged, the developer had not been properly disposing of trash, but had since improved performance by hiring new staff and dedicating baskets for food waste.

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