THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — Parkchester residents say they are fed up with the rats that prance around Hugh Grant Circle. The rodents scurry around in search of food — and they don’t have to search far.
“We want the park used. We are not saying we don’t want people here. We just want you to discard your garbage properly,” said Nilka Martell, the founder of Loving the Bronx.
Martell is a longtime resident and community leader. She was part of a group that pushed the City of New York to add park space to the area surrounding the Parkchester train station.
A couple of years ago, the city renovated the area, adding landscaping and seating for people to eat outdoors. Parkgoers say most of the leftovers end up on the ground, and street vendors who sell fruits and vegetables leave boxes of food out. It’s a feast for the vermin.
“The trash is disgusting. This is where our kids live. We have to teach them to be better, but they are not going to be better if we are living in garbage,” Parkchester resident Rima Izquierdo said.
There are multiple trash bins in the area, but most of the trash never makes it there. The city’s Sanitation Department and new rat czar have visited the trouble spot. The Parks Department has staff cleaning the green space several times a week, but residents say the problem needs more attention.
“They don’t have enough support to keep it clean and tidy. Somebody is getting paid for nothing,” said Bobby Lee.
While Martell said ongoing construction contributes to the problem, residents also have to do their part.
“Human behavior, educating people that when you leave that food you are not feeding a pigeon you are breeding a rat,” she said.
The city has been working with a private pest control company and hired exterminators to target and treat the area. Starting in March, all businesses in the five boroughs will be required to place their trash in bins with lids. That may help mitigate the rat problem in Parkchester.