CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – Neighbors surrounding the Garden Village Plaza have growing concerns that they will face an influx in rats once demolition work begins to clear the site to make way for a new $20.7 million dollar warehouse and distribution complex.
Some neighbors took to Facebook Wednesday night after Cheektowaga Chronicle posted the announcement of the new construction.
“My concern is, will this release numerous rats into our area,” wrote Chrissy Gritzke Hazard.
“I hope they bait for rats before tearing down. I am sure those old unoccupied buildings have been a breeding place for rats,” wrote Margaret Fouchie.
“There will be a rat problem just like when they knocked down the flea market on Walden,” wrote Mike Tycz.
Peter J. Tripi is the Director of the Vector Control Program with the Erie County Department of Health. He is the go to expert when it comes to controlling all things bats, bugs, and rats.
“Rats need humans to live. They like our food. They like our housing. They like everything we provide to them. You won’t find a rat living out in the middle of a field somewhere,” said Tripi.
The Town of Cheektowaga Code requires that, “Three weeks prior to demolition of a building, or part thereof, the premises shall be baited for rodent control by a licensed exterminator.”
Prior to the demolition work, a report must be provided to the Town detailing an asbestos assessment and any remediation work done to remove asbestos. The developer must have documentation that an exterminator was hired and when the traps were installed before the Town will give the authority to proceed with the demolition.
This was the same process followed when demolition work happened at the Super Flea on Walden Avenue.
“We did not see a significant increase in rat complaints from that demolition,” said Tripi. “We had some spotty issues here and there, but for the most part it went pretty seamless.”
The Hollywood Myth
The thought that mass amounts of rats live in abandon buildings is a fabrication made popular by the movies over the years. Tripi says rats are not attracted to old buildings as long as there isn’t a food source.
Tripi said he and his team inspected the Garden Village Plaza site within the last six months.
“I can assure you that when we were there, there were no obvious openings into that building. There were no harborages around that building.”
Once demolition work does begins, Tripi says it’s a team effort to keep any potential rat issues down. He recommends covering your garbage cans, removing food sources, and keeping your yard clean and free of trash and cleared of any pet waste.
“Just as the people knocking down the building have responsibilities, the residents in the area, all year round, also have a responsibility to eliminate any of those types of items.”
Demolition Could Disrupt Rats Underground
Rats live in the sewers. Because of the vibrations and other disruptions once demolition and construction work begins at the site, the rats may venture out.
“The reason they come up out of the sewers is because they find a better food source here. Sometimes when you’re doing road construction and any major demolition you may disturb a small population that’s in that area and they may scatter. That may be underground in the sewers or they may come up above ground,” said Tripi.
The health department generally doesn’t see that issue if there is a pre-baiting program that’s going on.
Rat Issue Near Apartment Complex Resolved
Concerns over major rat issues may be fresh in neighbor’s minds. It has been one year since a large apartment complex near the Garden Village Plaza worked through an infestation problem.
Rats were living inside apartments and freely running around the property because the complex failed to maintain dumpsters and the surrounding areas which attracted the rats.
The Erie County Department of Health and the complex worked closely over the past year to resolve those issues.
“That’s improve significantly and we since resolved that issue. The owners and the management worked along with us to take care of everything we asked them to do and so far we have not had any major complaints,” said Tripi.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
The rat population county wide is growing – mainly because of the abnormally warm winters the past two years. Tripi and his team try to stay on top of the issue the best they can, but they can’t do it without the residents help.
“If the residents are allowing bird feeders to spill over, garbage to spill over, wood piles on the ground and things like that, it makes our job very difficult. The residents, along with the people knocking the building down, along with County officials, all have their own responsibility that they need to do to help us,” said Tripi.
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