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Residents near AY construction site still air complaints about rats; ESDC says rodent burrows found and filled, but that's just within the site

Residents on blocks bordering the Atlantic Yards site are becoming frustrated by the increased presence of rats--not an uncommon feature of city life, but one they believe is created or at least exacerbated by nearby construction.

Larry Schwartz, a resident of Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues sent a letter yesterday to Council Member Letitia James, who had brought up rodent complaints at the Atlantic Yards District Cabinet meeting May 19 only to be reminded that Forest City Ratner is responsible only for on-site abatement and that making the developer responsible off-site would lead to a slippery slope of blame.

Rats infesting the garbage

Schwartz wrote:
Yesterday as I came home around 8 pm, I observed at least 6 or 7 rats all scurrying in and out of a garbage bag in front of my building that had been placed there for pickup today. All these rats scurried into the garage that is next door to our building. This garage has become infested with rats. Obviously, there is nothing we can do about placing garbage on the sidewalk for pickup. Either the city or Forest City Ratner has to deal with this problem. There are many kids in the neighborhood, and it is a very disturbing health issue.

I have attached 3 photos I took. While only one rat is clearly shown in the photos, please trust me that that whole bag was literally filled with them. This is an urgent matter, and I hope you can help facilitate a solution quickly.
James's comment

"The source of this problem is clearly related to the Atlantic Yards Project," commented James, who, it should be noted, would be pressed to prove that.

"FCR should therefore be held accountable for rodent abatement in and around the footprint, today. Failure to address this problem is just another example of their disregard for the quality of life issues residents of Prospect Heights are dealing with as a result of this ill conceived and financially challenged project."

ESDC response

Schwartz also sent letters to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and the Atlantic Yards Community Liaison Office.

I queried the ESDC myself. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded, "Site contractors had a rodent control specialist perform a site inspection last week. Several rodent burrows were discovered and plugged with grout. In addition, additional bait traps were deployed. ESD’s environmental monitor HDR will continue to ensure that periodic inspections are conducted thoroughly and properly."

That suggests that rodents were leaving the site to enter the neighborhood. But Forest City Ratner and ESDC monitors are responsible only for securing the site.


  1. I live on Bergen St between 6th and Carlton and this is serious problem. The rats are everywhere. I have always seen rats in the city but not everyday on my block. I have laid lots of poison down so I am less around my house, but it is my belief this is the Arena's fault!

  2. I have seen these critters on 6th Ave between President & Carroll Streets. We've been told that there is a burrow behind on of the houses there. A few owners have received summonses up to $300 when droppings were found, but they are fighting this in court. I have lived in the Slope for over 25 years and never seen anything like this. The city should be responsible for cleaning this up if ESDC is not. It's not fair that the residents have to bare the brunt of this.


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