ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND BENJAMIN FANG
Unwanted visitors are taking a stroll in a Woodside park.
Residents and store owners have observed a large number of rats beginning to inhabit John Vincent Daniels Jr. Square, located at Roosevelt Avenue and 43rd Avenue between 50th and 52nd Street, over the past several months.
“They’re monsters, they’re huge,” said Jim Gallagher, a resident who lives near the park and who called the Parks Department over a month ago after seeing rats while drinking his coffee at the park.
During a campaign stop in Woodside on July 16, mayoral candidate and former Councilmember Sal Albanese also encountered the rats. A local florist told him it has become a tireless problem not being addressed by the city.
On July 22, The Courier spotted seven rats on a morning visit to the park.
James Jeung of Dr. PC, a computer repair shop, said he has seen the rats for a long time on the lawn or the grass in the park. Xavier Gomes, who works at Patrons Grocery, said he has caught sight of the rodents four to five times a day.
However, a spokesperson for the city’s Park Department says the site has been well maintained and measures have been taken to prevent rodent infestation.
“The Parks Department cleans John Vincent Daniels Jr. Square daily,” said the spokesperson. “We work with the Health Department to bait the site for rats, and have trimmed the lower portions of the site’s bushes to remove places where rats can hide.”
The spokesperson also said Parks Enforcement Patrol officers visit the park to enforce rules against feeding pigeons and illegal dumping, which can attract rats to the area.
“Litter does not grow on trees and we encourage all park visitors to take any trash with them or properly dispose of it in an appropriate receptacle,” said the spokesperson.