Rat Day of Action Bolsters Ridgewood’s War on Rodents

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By Charlie Finnerty | cfinnerty@queensledger.com

Ridgewood community members, business owners and city service workers from various city agencies held an event Oct. 26 to provide information and instructions on best practices to control the neighborhood’s rat population and educate about the city’s anti-rodent initiatives under the Adams administration. City employees demonstrated rat baiting methods and green space management techniques to prevent burrows from forming. The Horticultural Society of New York educated residents and community gardeners on which crops attract and repel rats.

Rat Czar Kathleen Corradi, who oversees and coordinates the city’s cross-agency rat control efforts in her newly-created position, said local-level involvement is crucial to ensure the city’s aggressive new approach to rat management is successful.

“They are hand in glove to me. We’re changing policies at the top level with the goal to take away rats’ access to food, water and shelter, but the acute response in these community partnerships are of the same importance to me because this is the impact New Yorkers are feeling. Building that trust with community, to me, is paramount” Corradi said. “We want to meet people where they live to make sure we’re doing that direct engagement.”

Ricky Simeone, Director of Pest Control for the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, said he is hopeful that the Adams administration’s approach to pest control can make a serious difference in the city’s long history of rampant rat populations. Simeone said the city’s requirement that trash be placed in sealed containers starting next year, rather than left on the sidewalk in bags, will be a critical step to eliminate rat access to food scraps and other waste. The same requirements will soon follow for residential properties as well.

“This administration gets it because its number one concern is to address the garbage and the plastic bags out on the street,” Simeone said.

Caroline Bragdon, Director of Neighborhood Interventions for the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, said the Health Department has a dual role of not only enforcing health codes but also educating property owners on how to meet their requirements. Bragdon and Corradi both said mitigation starts with waste management and caring for green spaces where rodents can create burrows and nests.

“What we say at the health department is everyone has a role in pest control,” Bragdon said. “We’re here to show property owners the best and safest things you can do to keep rats off your property. We don’t want people to use a lot of harmful chemicals or pesticides. We want people to take proactive steps to prevent rats.”

Bragdon pointed to the city’s rat academy, a free training for property, business owners and community gardeners offered online and in person, and the rat information portal website at nyc.gov/rats as examples of resources offered by the city to educate and inform residents on mitigation strategies.

“We want communities to be engaged, to be involved, to visit our website and to come to our trainings to help us find a rat-free Queens and a rat-free New York,” Bragdon said.

Executive Director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District Theodore Renz, said his organization was ecstatic to work with the various city agencies to combat rat issues in Ridgewood. Renz has been working with the city since the summer to strategize Ridgewood’s rat mitigation efforts.

“Right now we are exploring possible locations off-site where we can set our bins to get rid of our bags,” Renz said. “We will still have the problem of illegal dumping, but we’re on board to strategize and come up with a reasonable comprehensive plan that’s fair to all stakeholders.”

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