New York City’s first ever “Rat Czar” visited Ridgewood last week to educate residents and business owners as to how best to combat the troublesome pests.
Kathleen Corradi, who was appointed Rat Czar in April, was joined by representatives of multiple city agencies on Thursday, Oct. 26, who set up an information center at the 71st Avenue Plaza on Myrtle Avenue.
The visit was dubbed the “Anti-Rat Day of Action,” and the center was staffed by representatives of the New York City Department of Sanitation, Parks & Recreation, Health and Mental Hygiene, Small Business Services as well as The Horticultural Society of New York. They turned out to keep residents up to date as to the latest rules pertaining to trash pick-up aimed to prevent an influx of vermin.
Corradi said the goal of the anti-rat days of action involves bringing city agencies together to help speak with local residents regarding their services and solutions to the ongoing rat problem.
“Everyone here today is aligned for the same mission, and there’s so much power in that. And that’s what keeps me excited,” Corradi said. “We can take really dedicated steps to knocking down [rat] populations across the city. Ridgewood included.”
The officials were also joined by Ted Renz, the executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business District, who echoed the Rat Czar’s sentiments.
“We are here to get rid of rats,” Renz said, who is an advocate for Ridgewood business owners.
Renz said that there is an ongoing rodent problem in the neighborhood, although the BID has been able keep rats at bay at the 71st Avenue Plaza and other commercial areas in Ridgewood thanks to funding from the DOT and help from elected officials.
However, many Ridgewood residents who visited the information center did complain about the rodents entering their apartments.
Marilia and Peter Rothman, who have six children, expressed to QNS their outrage over the rat problem at their home on Woodbine Street in Ridgewood. After a series of complaints to their landlord, visits from exterminators, and calls to 311, they said there is still no solution in sight.
“It’s ridiculous here, for months we’ve had rats in the apartment, they made a nest in the stove. We can’t use the stove,” said Peter Rothman. “My landlord refuses to do anything about it. She brings a guy in to try to seal holes and he refuses to work because of all the rat poop, which he was supposed to have cleaned up with a HEPA VAC which he never did.”
The Rothmans’ issues with rats extend to other residents who have lived in Ridgewood for generations.
Elaine and Joseph Haufe, who have lived in the neighborhood for more than 70 years, said that the rat problem has only gotten worse, particularly since COVID-19 with the expansion of outdoor dining and closure of some businesses. They also point to ongoing construction work and improper food waste management.
Although grateful for the visit from the Rat Czar and city agencies, the Haufes said much more needs to be done about the rodents.
“You can tell the residents to properly take care of the garbage, get after the restaurants to take care of their food waste, but what [is the city] doing?” Elaine Haufe asked, noting that the rats need to be killed.
“What are you doing to exterminate the problem? That was my biggest frustration. I don’t mind being part of this, but you’ve got to kill them. The only way you’re going to do this.”
Looking ahead, Corradi told QNS that the city’s new “Dining Out NYC” program, which will regulate outdoor dining and is scheduled to take effect in spring 2024, and new rules requiring food businesses to throw out garbage in bins beginning in March 2024, will help reduce the rat problem across the city.