State Senator Velmanette Montgomery’s Communications Director, Jim Vogel, said he lives on Pacific Street near where the new home of the NBA's Nets, the Barclays Center, is being constructed. He said the rodents especially affect residents on Dean Street.
“We’ve seen an uptake in the rats on our block and we’re not directly across the street from the construction site,” Vogel said.
He said the rats are huge and unafraid of humans.
“These are big even for New York City rats,” Vogel said. “We could just put saddles on some of these things and ride them around.”
In response to the problem, Councilwoman Letitia James, Montgomery, representatives from Councilman Steve Levin’s office and other community members met with the Empire State Development Corporation, which oversees the site’s builder, Forest City Ratner Companies, to discuss the issue.
Representatives from the Sanitation Department, the Health Department and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority also attended the meeting.
A rodent-specialist from the Health Department identified several pockets in the Atlantic Yards that are infested, according to a statement from James’ office.
Representatives from Forest City Ratner said they would provide vouchers for community members to obtain trash cans that seal so rodents can’t access the garbage inside. In addition, they said the company would partner with Colony, which manages pest control through education and bait control, according to the statement.
The representatives also said Forest City Ratner construction workers would start separating their food waste from the construction garbage at the site, according to the statement.
However, in an interview days after the meeting, James said rats were a problem in the area before the construction started at the Atlantic Yards.
The infestation became a problem when the Atlantic Center Mall was constructed, along with the rise in restaurants opening in Prospect Heights and Fort Greene, she said.
However, “I’m satisfied that Forest City Ratner will be taking steps to provide vouchers to community residents for upgraded trash cans,” James said, “which should deter the rodent population and ensure a higher quality of life.”
As of press time, representatives from Forest City and the ESDC could not be reached for comment on the progress of the rodent control.