ROOSEVELT ISLAND A hordeof rats has been running rampantand doing acrobatics outside of P.S./I.S. 217 since April, grossing out neighbors who watch the display daily.
The rodents started showing up after a tree was removed outside the school's cafeteria in April, coming out of a hole in the ground and climbing over garbage bags left in the yard by the school, according to residents and Susan Rosenthal, the chairwoman of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) that manages the island.
"It's absolutely insane. It's a very bad situation," said Erka Kosta, a mother of a second grader who goes to the school located at 645 Main St. "When you stand there on the side of the school you see 15 rats coming in and out of holes, climbing the edge of the school walls, and you see kids who are ages 5 to 10, sitting behind the glass having their lunch."
"It's a serious problem that is a result of the removal of a tree that left a pile of dirt," Rosenthal said during a RIOC meeting on May 25th. "And the way the garbage is handled [at the school] it created a literal rat colony."
RIOC's own exterminator estimated that there were 200rats in the colony based on the number of holes in the yard, officials and residentssaid.
Since the meeting, RIOC has met with Department of Education and Department of Sanitation officials to clean up the infestation through new garbage cans and other abatement actions, according to RIOC Spokeswoman Jessica Murray.
"Working with the Department of Sanitation, P.S./I.S. 217 has changed its garbage handling procedures and DOE is procuring new garbage containers for the school," she said. "DOEs exterminator has also modified its procedures and will be securing bait boxes around the facility in addition to following up each week."
Bait boxes had been put out but there were still rats crawling on the stairs, across a railing, along a schoolwindow, and under trash bags as of earlier this week, residents said.
Kosta said the school took too long to respond to the rats.
"I was one of the first people to raise alarm," she said. "I washorrified and I walked into the principal's office, but I was told, 'they're outside my walls it has nothing to do with me.'"
An email and call requesting comment from Principal Mandana Beckmanwent unanswered on Friday.
The DOE confirmed on Friday that it is working to put in gravel and mesh to cover the holes in the ground, as well as garbage cans, to combat the rats.
We are aware of the issue in the surrounding area and are providing the school with extensive rat abatement support, including new gravel and mesh around the school, rat-resistant trash cans and a new recycling sorting station," said Michael Aciman, a spokesman for the DOE.
An exterminator was at the school Friday morning, but parents were told that it would take six to eight weeks to get the program going.
RIOCsaid it's ready to pitch in to get the rats out.
"While RIOC is somewhat frustrated by the lack of a clear schedule from the DOE for completing all tasks needed to destroy the rats habitat, the DOE Intergovernmental Affairs office has committed to presenting us a timeline early next week," Murray said.
A Rat Academy course for the public has also been scheduled by the Health Department for June 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the island's Chapel of the Good Shepherd at 543 Main St.
The Roosevelt Islander blog first reported thisstory.
Originally posted here:
Rats Run Amok Outside Roosevelt Island School - DNAinfo
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