Residents on 84th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive have been plagued by mosquitoes for more than a year. The city did just about nothing when they complained, until West Side Rag reporter Leonora Desar wrote about the problem and Assemblyman Linda Rosenthal got involved.
In the meantime, some residents have been sleeping under mosquito nets, and others have had severe allergic reaction to the point where they have to go to the hospital.
Recently, there’s been some movement to fix the underlying problem. The Department of Environmental Protection is flushing the local sewer lines, where the nasty critters have been living and breeding, twice a week for six weeks. That, Rosenthal hopes, will force the mosquitoes out of the neighborhood.
But Rosenthal’s concerned that the mosquitoes have spread beyond 84th Street, because her office has received more than 60 complaints from throughout the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the mosquito infestation has become hard to track because the city won’t accept many of the complainants’ 311 calls unless they are reporting a problem with standing water that could lead to West Nile Virus. Instead, the 311 operators tell people to hire their own exterminators or call their building management, and they don’t take down a complaint (that’s what happened to me, and numerous others who have called). Because they don’t take down complaints, it’s hard to know how far the infestation has spread.
“That’s counter to Bloomberg’s idea of taking down every [complaint],” Rosenthal told us. “We can’t know the full extent until 311 accepts complaints.”
“It’s the city’s responsibility to take care of this, especially with people sleeping under mosquito nets.”
The other problem is that the mosquitoes have been emerging through holes in the ground that residents said went unfixed for weeks. The city has blamed Con Edison for allowing sinkholes to open in the pavement after the company did work there earlier this year. Con Ed, which doesn’t agree that the holes are their fault, has recently repaired two sinkholes that were near two of its service boxes, said Con Ed spokesman Allan Drury. And the company is looking to do some more paving.
(The photo at left of some recent hole-patching on the block was sent to us by local resident Howard Freeman.)
In the meantime, let us know if you’re still getting bitten! If we get enough info, maybe we can create a map.