Construction? Rats! And DOT Knew Beforehand

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Construction at the East 8th Street/Guider Avenue bridge over the Belt Parkway has stirred up an underground rats nest. The furry fiends are now overwhelming Brighton Beach streets and costing residents hundreds of dollars. But worst of all, the DOT was warned before construction began that work would unleash a plague of pests on the neighborhood.

“It’s like a horror movie out here,” Mark Kuchinsky, a building owner who counted 30 on his Brighton 7th St. block in one night, told the Daily News. “The rats make my skin crawl.”

The rats are reportedly the size of cats and have been eating through garbage cans and car wiring. One resident even had to pay a mechanic to ply a dead rat off of his engine after it got stuck there. So far, resident’s calls to 311 and Councilman Michael Nelson’s office hasn’t helped, though the Health Department has confirmed the problem.

But Lale Can, a Brighton 7th Street resident, wrote to us saying that she had warned the DOT beforehand, knowing that the grass patch nearby was infested with rats that would take refuge in the residential neighborhood – but the city failed to take proper preventative measures. She writes:

When as homeowners on the block, we received news in January that a year-long construction project would commence in February, I immediately contacted the Department of Transportation community outreach liaison, and explained the need for preemptive, proactive measures since the construction site is located on a grassy area that is infested with rats. To date, sufficient action has not been taken and the displaced rats have once again settled on this block (Brighton 7th Street between Banner Ave and Shore Pkwy) and on Banner Ave between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 8th Street.
While the community liaison has been very helpful (for example, by expediting permits for the contractor to hire an exterminator for the construction site itself), the problem as a whole has definitely not been adequately addressed. For example, neither the Department of Health nor the Department of Sanitation have undertaken measures such as inspecting lots or for rodent abatement (baiting) anywhere outside of a confined location on the construction site itself — a measure which is completely insufficient given the fact that the rats flee the site because of the construction.
I have spoken to people in the South Brooklyn office of the Department of Health about this many times, but could not seem to communicate the need for action. Thus was the case last year until The Daily News story. I was told that the contractor needed to address the issue. The result is that a city-initiated construction project in a heavily rodent infested area is leading once again to a massive infestation on a residential block full of children. As the weather warms, dead rats (which are turning up on my block and Banner Ave) pose a health threat and live rats will have opportunities to enter homes through windows and open doors. And these rats are huge!  They are not like mice or small rats, they are more like possums.
As a resident on this block for 26 years, I am appalled by the city’s neglect and the prospect of giant vermin once again taking over my block.

It seems like another example of the DOT once again ignoring the eyes on the ground in the form of residents and local leaders. How can we get these people to listen to us?!


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