De Blasio Pledges $750,000 to ‘Beat Back’ UWS Rats

Mayro de Blasio speaking at Hippo Playground on Thursday.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference in the Hippo playground in Riverside Park at West 91st street on Thursday to announce an all-out war on rats on the Upper West Side.

“Our goal is to beat back the rats,” de Blasio said. “This is a tough enemy. You have to make it real tough for rats to live here.”

“We’ve heard the complaints. We’ve heard the pleas for help. People have been right in this community that we can do better. I’m here to say that help is on the way and you’re going to start seeing the results of it very, very soon.”

The city’s $750,000 commitment to combating rats in the neighborhood comes as welcome news, given that the mayor announced a $32-million anti-rat initiative back in July that did not include the Upper West Side.

Meanwhile, rats were spreading in local playgrounds. Disgusted parents sent photos and videos to West Side Rag, and our resulting article led to wider media attention. The flood of community complaints and pressure from local politicians seems to have swayed the mayor.

“The plan will start immediately,” he said, “and you’ll start to see some of the impacts of it immediately. All elements of this plan will be in place in the next six months or so.”

A press release from the mayor’ office outlines the plan:

“To reduce the rat population at parks, playgrounds and schools on the Upper West Side, the de Blasio Administration will implement the following new efforts in targeted Upper West Side parks and schools:

* 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.

This 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
* Hippo Playground
* Dinosaur 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”

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NEWS | 30 comments | permalink
    1. Rat A. Tooey says:

      I sees where dey wanna get rid a da rats in da public schools?

      So whadda dey gonna do wid-out da principals and all dem assistant principals??

    2. Carlos says:

      Thank you Mayor deBlasio and Helen Rosenthal. We are all so quick to complain (I am generally not a big fan of the mayor’s), but I appreciate that they are making an effort to address this important issue in an intelligent way.

      I’m sure all of the cynics around here will find something to complain about but I am happy – the rat population has really gotten out of hand to the point where I hesitate to take my children to some playgrounds.

      I think it would have been fitting if a rat ran in front of the podium while he was speaking.

    3. Christine E says:

      Regarding “enforcement of rat-related violations”… does anyone know if it is a crime to feed pigeons? This may be a good way to break the pigeon/rat cycle.

    4. John Creasy says:

      Well it’s about time. But why did it take months of complaining? CM Rosenthal shut us down, the Mayor turned a blind eye. Only after we started videotaping them that could no longer ignore the problem. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this is an election year. I’m happy something is being done, but I’m NOT happy about what WE had to do to get it done.

      Rest assured, we will be closely monitoring this and other promises made by public servants up for re-election.

      For example, the construction of the 668-foot-tall luxury building at 200 Amsterdam Ave has just been approved by the City, despite Helen Rosenthal’s promise that it would not happen.

    5. Phoebe says:

      I KNEW you’d be the first to comment!

    6. Eliza says:

      Why was the UWS not part of the original anti-rat program? Can someone tell me/ This is a serious question, not a joke of any sort.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        i think it is based on the statistics of rat populations. the original program included only a few neighborhoods, and the UWS was not one of the very highest in infestations.

      • Cat says:

        But they were. “Disgusted parents sent photos and videos to West Side Rag, and our resulting article led to wider media attention. The flood of community complaints and pressure from local politicians seems to have swayed the mayor.”

    7. RecyclingRick says:

      By expanding the DSNY Organics program and by further distributing rodent-proof plastic locking containers to buildings on the UWS, the amount of organic waste that ends up in plastic bags and easily accessible to sharp-toothed rats can be greatly reduced. These solar compactors are a good start, but this needs to be expanded far and fast.

      • robert says:

        sorry folks but those new DSNY Organics program “rodent-proof” plastic bins are….. not repeat not. Maybe we have super rats on the UWS but several buildings including me have seen rats get into ours they chew on the hinges, top lip and latch until they get in. Once they do it becomes a rat highway to get to them. This has occurred between WEA & RSD in the 100’s and 90’s

    8. WombatNYC says:

      those stools look quite uncomfortable

    9. Bruce Bernstein says:

      thank you Mayor De Blasio, Boro Pres Gayle Brewer and COuncil Member Helen Rosenthal. “props.”

    10. GG says:

      Good timing, Mr. Mayor.

      How long until the election again?

      Oh and we’re still waiting about the horse drawn carriages in Central Park. Remember how passionate you were about that?

      • B.B. says:

        You left out the thing that put BdeB on the map: *saving* Long Island College Hospital.

      • Independent says:

        Note to GG and the many others who enter URLs such as Gmail, Yahoo or AOL or the words “none” or “no website”, etc. in the “website” field:

        Unlike the email field, the “website” field is entirely optional and is intended for those who wish to share a personal or other website that they are affiliated with. Otherwise, it can and should be left blank.

        (As for why the email field is not marked as required and the website field marked as optional, anyone’s guess is as good as mine.)

    11. Concerned resident says:

      I see them every morning going between the garbage in front of Lincoln Square Steak and the PS 199 playground. More needs to be done.

    12. Barbara Michalak says:

      I am a fan of the Hippo playground at about 91st and Central Park West. But there’s one in Riverside Park, too? ??

    13. Cindy says:

      I worrry that poisoning the rats will also mean poisoning the Larger birds who eat them.
      Heard there was an effective way to get rid of rats with dry ice.

    14. Sandy says:

      There is a woman in my neighborhood on UWS who daily feeds the pigeons which causes a mess. She refuses to stop despite relentless requests to do so.
      How can a person like that be ordered to stop?

    15. j says:

      Good news.

      But another significant problem are the people who place their trash in overflowing trash bins on the sidewalks. The garbage is just falling to the sidewalk. Especially bad around 72nd Street area.

      Really concerning and troubling to see folks who know better just leave their trash in overflowing bins (yes sadly those educated millennials and their Starbucks cups are major culprits). They should be worried about the environment if nothing else

    16. GrumpyOldMan says:

      When was the last time anyone saw a waste receptacle in the rapidly eroding highway known as Riverside Park?

    17. Sue says:

      Just vote him out.

    18. john says:

      Most of the rats work for this administration will the 750,000 be going towards severance pay?

    19. Anita says:

      Glad to hear it, but what about the school on Columbus and W 77th (the Anderson School?)?? I live across the street and walk my dog there…not a night goes by where I don’t see a rat and some baby rats running back and forth from the shrubs to the flowers on the sidewalks. It’s so disgusting. I either have to sprint through there (on Columbus between 76th and 77th) or play Frogger with them. I’m always afraid one is going to bite my dog. I’ve lived here for over 10 years and this is the worst it’s ever been. I’m running out of places to walk my dog at night. Anyone else have this same issue with that stretch of street?

      • Anita says:

        Having said that, I do sincerely appreciate that they’re making a concerted effort to address the problem head on. And if rats on the street are the price I have to pay for living in a nice, safe neighborhood, well I guess I can deal. My friends who live downtown and pay the same exorbitant NYC rents have to deal with tons of garbage, homeless people defecating on the street outside their “luxury buildings” and lots of noise pollution, not to mention TOURISTS!! (That last bit is a joke)