Parks ratchets up rat attack


By Lincoln Anderson

Trying to get a handle on the Tompkins Square Park rat infestation, the Parks Department recently put up signs telling people not to feed pigeons, since in doing so, they’re also feeding the rats. (However, as the photo at right was being taken, a rat scurried right through the fence beneath it.)

The Tompkins Square Park & Playgrounds Parents’ Association, which first raised the alarm about the rats, says it’s happy with the new signage.

In addition, TSP3A is pleased that their request for a designated “tot lot” within the park’s Avenue A playground has been O.K.’d. The spot will be reserved for kids 4 years old and under and their siblings, and will keep older children from running dangerously into the toddlers. In addition, the parents group’s request for sandbox improvements has also been answered; it has been filled with new sand, extra sand is on order, and there are signs telling people not to let youngsters remove sand from it to create mud puddles.

Also, according to TSP3A, every park garbage can has been replaced with new “rat proof” cans, and Parks is no longer allowing garbage to be left out in bags overnight awaiting morning pickup. (However, at least one old-style can was seen in the park Monday evening, though it did look like a fairly rat-proof model with a dome hood.)

Furthermore, the food charity groups have reportedly agreed not to leave garbage behind in bags, and Parks is sending a special cleanup crew to Tompkins each night to scoop up discarded food. TSP3A has also given Parks 5,000 trash bags with a minty fresh flavor, which is a rat repellant.

Nevertheless, TSP3A said in a press release, “While all these steps are helpful, they are not enough to reduce the rat population to TSP3A’s satisfaction. We have communicated that point to the Parks Department and are working with them to develop and implement strategies that will actively eliminate the rats without harming the resident hawk — which is protected by federal law.”

Parks is no longer baiting Tompkins with rat poison since the raptor could eat a poisoned rat, and so poison itself.