Dear West Villagers,
I don’t have a death wish. If you see me walking in the middle of the street on my way home at night, it’s because I’m trying to avoid stepping on multiple rats from the trash piles scurrying in front of me. I love the West Village. I grew up on Charles Street in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Aside from times being simpler, the streets were cleaner and the rat population did not outnumber that of humans by multitudes. But today, our block is under siege. Many building managements on Charles Street, as well as on Waverly Place, are not doing their job to manage trash and keep the streets clean. The result is, you guessed it: rats. Besides the nuisance and stress of living alongside rodents, there are many detri-ments to sharing our streets with them. They carry multiple harmful diseases, and can damage property by eating through wires and plant material. I have had to spend many dollars on prevention by putting mesh on all plant material on my property so rats don’t burrow and nest. And, oh, have you ever seen a flat rat? If not, take a look on the street on Charles Street. More than once have I seen a rat squished completely to pancake flatness from being run over. My high school daugh-ter has a particularly hard time with this…what childhood memories. While I understand that this is a city-wide problem, I also know that Charles Street between Greenwich Avenue and Wa-verly Place and Waverly between Charles and West 10th Streets are particularly in-fested. A check on the rat map of NYC can show you this by color-blocking these streets in red. Neighboring streets are colorblocked in yellow, showing low-to-no rat population. This is proof that lack of sanita-tion and trash disposal on the block is the direct contributor. The nights leading up to garbage collec-tion are particularly disgusting. Trash is strewn about and there aren’t proper recep-tacles to hold it. I’ve seen things I probably shouldn’t in that trash area, but as a seasoned New Yorker I take a sip of my coffee and move on. Then, on the evening before trash collec-tion, a little elf seems to come and clean it up and place the bags on the sidewalk. But, that magic moment doesn’t last long. Soon, it’s feast time on the sidewalk. I’ve dreamed of getting a pair of stilts to walk down the street. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a video game called “Don’t step on the rats.” After the garbage trucks collect the bags the next morning, you can see what managed to seep out of the multiple holes the rats made in the bags overnight. Somehow, I’ve gotten used to walking over avocado pits and dirty diapers at 8:00 a. m. I’ve reached out to the management of one of the buildings many times, to no avail. Unfortunately, I’ve had to call 311 and make complaints multiple times, as this problem has now begun to seep into my outdoor liv-ing space. But violations don’t seem to be helping solve the problem either. I am writing this not only to complain and air my grievances, but to implore you, as West Villagers, to help in the fight against the rats. I feel strongly that garbage bags should not be allowed to be placed on the sidewalk without being placed in recepta-cles. Building owners should be motivated to keep their trash areas clean every day — to better our beautiful neighborhood. The morning after trash collection, they should be responsible for cleaning up the residual trash. Hosing the front of your building’s area would be oh so lovely. Recently, I spoke with an exterminator who has worked in the neighborhood for many years. I respect him highly because he always likes to get to the root of the pest problem and isn’t a band-aid kind of guy. When I told him that rats from neighbor-ing buildings’ trash areas were coming into my outdoor space, his response was, “I can put poison in your space, but all that will do is attract them and kill off a small percent. Your neighbors’ problem is now your prob-lem.” And so, I leave you with this — the only way this problem can be controlled is if we do it together.
Concerned neighbor on Charles Street If you are interested in joining the rat task force, please email me at ayedidrd@gmail. com. Next up: dog urine and poop in the West Village. Stay tuned.