Lucy Fusco, who resides on 69th Lane off Grand Avenue, said her neighbors have been pestered by rats recently, and have teamed up to flood the 311 hotline with phone calls requesting a solution to the problem.
"We don't want to get them in our house," Fusco said. "We want to get rid of them if possible."
Fusco said her neighbors have seen the rats in front of the Amalgamated Bank at 69-73 Grand Avenue, and around the dumpsters behind I.S. 73 at 70-02 54th Avenue in Maspeth, along with in their own yards.
"I saw one dead Sunday morning outside on Grand Avenue," she said. Fusco said that in the 43 years she's lived in Maspeth, this is the first time she's had a problem with the rodents.
Her neighbor, Stephanie Frazier, 55, who lives on 69th Lane, said she saw a rat in her backyard while she was sitting outside with her husband.
“At first we thought it was a squirrel and we looked closer and saw it was certainly a rat,” Frazier said. “It jumped into my barbecue [grill] and all hell broke loose.”
She said it took 15 minutes to convince the rat to leave their yard.
“I grow a garden in my yard and my tomatoes and my peppers, they're all clawed at,” Frazier said. “You can see the difference between the way a squirrel would eat and the way a rat would tear it up.
“It's really become a big problem,” she said.
Frazier, who also called 311 to report the problem, said she lives behind I.S. 73, and often sees the rats near the dumpsters behind the school.
“It's like their playground over there,” she said.
The residents reported some success when they saw inspectors from the city poking around the area, looking for holes in the street and other places the rats could be coming from.
Fusco said the inspectors came after every local resident along with all of their family members filed 311 complaints.
“They said they got so many calls,” Fusco said. “I know one family on my block that had 15 people call in.”
However, as of press time, it was unclear which city agency sent the inspectors. A representative from the Department of Health (DOH) said they could have been from the Department of Education (DOE), since a school was mentioned in the complaints, but the DOE failed to confirm this.
The representative said the Health Department will send an inspector to investigate the rat sightings at the Algamated Bank on Grand Avenue, but that no 311 complaints have been forwarded to them.
According to the department, property owners who fail a DOH inspection will have five days to clear their area of any rodent-attracting violations, including excessive garbage or clutter that feed rats and give them a hiding place.
If the owners fail to fix the problem, fines could be issued. If the problem is bad enough, DOH will send an exterminator and bill the property owner for the work.
According to DOH, the best way to prevent rats from inhabiting an area is by removing their access to food, shelter and water. This includes checking for holes in garbage cans, sealing up or removing their burrows, controlling weeds and bushes, and removing clutter from the area.
The DOH encourages anyone with a rat or other problem to call the 311 hotline, provide an address, and keep track of the complaint on Nyc.gov.