DOH Announces Program To ‘Index’ Area
An increase in the local rodent population has led the city Department of Health (DOH) to begin a major new initiative in Bushwick, Brooklyn Community Board 4 learned at its Wednesday, May 16 meeting at the Hope Gardens Community Center.
Yves Rene and Carla Toro of the DOH told Board 4 that the agency is beginning to “index” the neighborhood for rodents.
Rene explained that the survey stems from a program instituted in Bushwick four years ago where the DOH gave out 7,000 specialized hinged trash cans over a 48-block area of Bushwick and trained resiby dents in how to prevent rats from festering.
“The project was successful,” Rene stated, with incidences of rat sightings dropping from 50 percent of all animal sightings to just 23 percent.
However, he added that “some of the problems (are) coming back,” with more evidence of rodents in the neighborhood.
Rene later claimed that some residents were using their cans in ways other than the ways they were intended; in one case, a household used the can as a makeshift beer and ice cooler.
As a result of the rodent increase, the agency is running a program to survey Bushwick and neighboring Bedford-Stuyvesant for evidence of rats.
DOH employees will be looking not just for the rodents themselves but for evidence of their existence, such as prints, bites on food or droppings.
If evidence of rodent infestation is found in a residential area, the city will send the owner a letter informing them that the area must be cleaned. Toro added that there is an enforcement aspect to the program as properties found to be in squalor will be fined.
Rene and Toro added that “neglectful” landlords will be tickets while “proactive” landlords-those who make efforts to clean their properties- can avoid penalties.
“We really don’t want to emphasize enforcement,” Toro added, noting that an education program will accompany the effort.
Rene urged the crowd to help control the rat population by not littering and by keeping their trash cans secured, thus keeping edible food away from the animals.
“We can do baiting until we are blue in the face,” he stated; “we can do all sorts of other activities and analyses, but until everyone works in unison, there will always be a rat situation.”
He later added that “I have never seen a cluster of rat burrows without a real good food source nearby.”
However, one resident criticized the agency’s presentation, claiming that the DOH is deflecting responsibility from the Department of Sanitation for failing to pick up public litter baskets and clean up vacant lots.
“When it comes time to give someone a fine, everyone knows who to go to: the homeowners,” they stated. “We’re getting a civic lesson for elementary schools.”
“The agencies need to talk to one another,” she later added.
Push to save daycare center
Rhonda Webb and Irma Warner of the Bushwick Improvement Society announced that the Horace Greene Day Care Center at 600 Hart St. has lost the city contract to continue providing its services to another agency.
While the organization had the contract for the Stagg Street Daycare Center at 77 Stagg St. renewed, Warner told the crowd that they would prefer to keep the Greene Center over the Stagg Street Center due to its over-40-year history in the area.
The loss will come with over 50 layoffs.
“We are a productive center,” said Webb, “and it’s kind of sad to see that it’s going to be taken way from the community.”
“We appreciate all the support you can give us at this moment,” she added.
“We love every kid, but to give us Staff Street and take away Bushwick is sad,” said Parks Committee Chairperson Robert Camacho, whose family has made use of the center through the years.
“Our children deserve the best of the best and we would like the programs to continue in the community,” Chairperson Julie Dent stated earlier in the night.
Dent announced that the community board will move to its new offices, at 1420 Bushwick Ave., on July 16.
Elvena Davis of the Civic and Religious Committee announced that the annual Bushwick parade will take place on June 7 at 10 a.m. The parade’s theme this year is “Bushwick Stomps Out Bullying.”