By Carol Tannenhauser
Monday, August 29, 2022
Partly cloudy, high 82 degrees.
Our calendar has lots of local events! Click on the link or the lady in the upper righthand corner.
In February, 2022, West Side Rag told the story of colorful cubes of rat poison turning up in tree beds in the neighborhood and in Riverside Park, endangering the lives of children and pets. Two dogs nearly died after ingesting the poison, but, thankfully, were saved. Another was not so lucky; we got a tip last Saturday about a dog named Reggie who died from suspected rat poisoning — “Not from city-sponsored rat poison but vigilante-placed rat poison, [spread] haphazardly and in inappropriate locations,” said the tipster. “How can we combat this dangerous situation?”
City Councilmember Gale Brewer is beginning, as she always does, by collecting data. In April, her office surveyed the 5,248 tree beds in her Upper West Side district, using neighborhood volunteers. The survey showed that only about 5% of the beds, 255, have evidence of rat burrows. That’s still a bunch of burrows, but at least they can be targeted. The question is, who’s responsible for doing it?
Actually, no one, Brewer said, in an opinion piece in Gotham Gazette, on Friday. “The street tree bed ownership challenge is a bureaucratic quagmire. There’s no clear administrative body that handles the rat burrows in tree beds.
“Property owners are responsible for keeping the sidewalk adjacent to their property free of trash and debris; the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is charged with keeping sidewalks safe and accessible for all and ticketing offenders,” Brewer explained. “The Department of Parks and Recreation maintains tree beds it plants with trees for two years after planting, after which property owners become responsible for maintaining the bed. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has a small budget for rat mitigation in tree beds, but mitigation in all tree beds is not in their purview.”
The rats, it would seem, have slipped through the cracks. Until the matter of administrative responsibility is settled, Brewer urges “the vigilantes going after rats on the Upper West Side [to] stop taking matters into their own hands.”
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Apparently, it’s not “just like riding a bicycle…” “Ambulances have been summoned to Central Park’s famed Wollman Rink and the nearby area at least 11 times in the 10 weeks since it opened on June 16 as a seasonal roller-skating venue,” the New York Post reported. “Seven people were rushed to the hospital, according to the FDNY.”
“The New York City Department of Sanitation has announced the return of its ‘Trucks of Art,’ program, offering the opportunity for artists to creatively paint collection trucks, creating colorful art that inspires recycling or honors Sanitation Department essential workers, ‘New York’s Strongest,'” silive reported. “Those interested in applying should email a brief description of their idea with design mock-ups and an explanation of why they’d like to be selected, along with contact information and a short biography, to TrashTalk@dsny.nyc.gov.”
Have a great week — and watch out for rat poison! If you suspect your child or pet has been exposed, call poison control immediately (212-POISONS). If you see loose blocks, call 311 or contact Brewer’s office at 212-873-0282.