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More stories of rats in the area of arena construction come forward; Community continues to believe the source of rodent infestation is project construction

Since the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet several weeks ago, more complaints about rodents have reached this site, been voiced at the monthly Dean Street block association meeting and posted on Atlantic Yards Report.  Rodents have been an ongoing problem in the area since work on Atlantic Yards began in 2007.

On Friday Atlantic Yard Report published photographs and complaints from Dean Street resident Larry Schwartz.  His complaints about rodent infestation near the Dean and Carlton Avenue intersection parallel concerns filed in incident reports and comments earlier in the week on this site.

On Monday the 23rd, a resident of 6th Avenue between Dean and Bergen Streets attended the monthly meeting of Dean Street Block Association and regaled those in attendance with stories of rats attempting to chew through an exterior door and expressed anxiety about walking home alone after dark due to the infestation.  This area is only a few feet from arena excavation.

Three weeks ago, this website located the rodent infestation primarily on Dean Street at 6th Avenue.  With further input from area residents, we now locate the area with current problems to 6th Avenue from Bergen to Dean Street, Dean Street from 6th Avenue to Carlton, and Carlton between Dean and Bergen.

Many community members place the blame for the rodent infestation with the construction of the project. Supporting their arguments, rodent infestation has been synchronized to areas in close proximity to active demolition, excavation and construction inside the footprint.  The first significant infestation occurred in the immediate vicinity of the excavation of the railyard in block 1121 in 2007. Later infestations occurred immediately near demolition and grading of block 1129, and then near the dormant lots left during the stasis of construction in 2009.  Now infestation has moved near excavation of the arena block.

At the District Service Cabinet May 19th, ESDC Project Director Arana Hankin stated that ESDC's job is to ensure the adverse affects of construction are contained inside the project site.  Rodents are mobile, raising a challenge for ESDC and their environmental monitor HDR in this respect.  During a coordinated inspection of the site by 14 community members in November 2011, the photograph at the lead of this article was taken in the middle of the intersection of 6th and Atlantic Avenues.  It shows a dead rat squashed in mid-route only a few feet from the future arena, but outside the perimeter of the footprint.  

Intermittently over the last four years the community near the project has had to wrestle with the complex problem of addressing rodent infestation through coordinating affected stakeholders without the assistance of the Empire State Development Corporation or Forest City Ratner.  Rodents appear to move where they can feed, meaning the location of their homes and the sources of their food have to be addressed in tandem. 

The recent complaints about rodent infestation resemble those that took place in 2009.  With the help of NYC DOS, rodent nests and burrows were identified within block 1129 inside the project site directly across from residents and commercial businesses where food was available. The rodents expanded into the basements and backyards of homes nearby.  The problem was addressed when the footprint was baited, (something that had apparently been neglected at the time), property owners put in place improved trash receptacles, and holes in buildings were sealed.  The cost of addressing the infestation outside the footprint was absorbed by property owners and tenants.

The problem is now more complex given the variety and types of stakeholders and the apparent geographic expanse of the problem.