UPPER WEST SIDE — Parents walking their children to a Manhattan day care are worried about the little ones, except in this case, they mean rats.
A serious rodent infestation has taken over Goddard Riverside Daycare Center, located within NYCHA's Wise Towers Day Care Center on the Upper West Side.
"We were actually appalled because we had no idea this was a presenting issue at the center," Ann Bascom, a parent, said. "Had I known, my child wouldn't be here."
Bascom along with fellow mom Michelle Megan showed PIX11 several photos of droppings in the day care center's playroom area and bathroom.
The issue is particularly concerning because the day care is inside a public housing building.
Stephan Russo, executive director at Goddard Daycare, said the problem is both the day care's and NYCHA's.
"The Department of Health oversees it but we are in a building that is run by the New York City Housing Authority," Russo said.
NYCHA's role as a landlord has been brought into question.
"There were some mouse droppings that we're seeing," Russo said. "We'll correct that right away."
He later claimed the holes have been plugged up, the droppings has been cleared and the problem has been dealt with.
The Department of Health's website shows the day care center failed an inspection on January 25, citing pests and potential hazards. Both violations remain open.
An agency spokesperson issued a statement addressing the rodent crackdown.
"If at any point the Health Department is not confident in a site's ability to safely accommodate children, the Department takes immediate action to close the program and move the children to another center."
Health inspectors will return this month to see if these violations have been corrected.
After Russo put partial blame on the day care's landlord, PIX11 reached out to NYCHA for comment on how it would handle pests at this and other public housing complexes.
NYCHA said their exterminator is at the building once a week because they're aware of the problem. In terms of other facilities, exterminators come when their services are sought.
However, not all parents are relieved by NYCHA's, Russo's or the department's actions.
"Of course [I'm concerned]," Felix Greniela, another parent said. "But I'm not surprised they [rats] actually made it inside because I see them all the time."
NYCHA on Wednesday said it's taking additional steps.
A spokesperson tells PIX11: “In light of the Health Department’s findings, Goddard Riverside Daycare Center has taken action by cleaning accessible areas and plugging holes where rodents could enter into the building. NYCHA will continue our aggressive extermination program through treating our development grounds weekly, and we await the results of the Health Department’s upcoming inspection. The health and safety of our residents—particularly children—are our top priority.”