Cause of Owen Dolen’s rat infestation is puzzling

The park at the Owen Dolen Recreation Center
Photo Courtesy of Robert Christie

Community Board 10 and Westchester Square stakeholders are pursuing efforts to eliminate a rat infestation problem in Owen Dolen Park.

Lisa Sorin, president of the Westchester Square Business Improvement District sent an email to Iris Rodriguez, Bronx Borough Commissioner for the NYC Parks Department on Tuesday, October 18, asking for help with the park’s rat problem.

Attached to the email was a video showing several rats running in and out of the bench area at the Westchester Avenue entrance of the park.

Sorin said in her letter the BID was holding an event on Thursday, October 13 with Council Member James Vacca for Hispanic Culture Month when she learned about the rats.

“To our horror, an employee contacted me about all the complaints she was getting about the rats running through the park and onto the street,” wrote Sorin.

“I am concerned for the safety of the people within the park, families, or anyone who visits in the evening when the problem is most prevalent,” Sorin continued. “This park is one of the biggest assets in our community. We look to the park as an anchor to attract our families, visitors, and businesses alike.”

Sorin said the BID “is strongly invested in the success of the park and is willing to continue the discussion about our BID providing supplemental services.”

Vacca, who found out about the rat issue following the event, said he has contacted the NYC Department of Health to take a look at the problem.

The councilman said rats usually appear when construction is in progress, but since there is no construction activity in the area he was not sure what was attracting the rodents to the park.

Martin Prince, CB 10 chair, said on Tuesday, October 25 the board would contact the NYC Department of Sanitation for help with the epidemic.

Prince said the community board had their monthly meeting with the department on Tuesday, October 18 but the rat problem was not brought to their attention.

However, he said the DOS work in that district is “very good” and he will wait to hear from them on the issue.

When asked about the rodents, a parks department spokesperson did not offer a comment on the issue but did say “Owen Dolen Park is a small, but highly trafficked site.”

“The park is cleaned several times weekly, and is baited regularly, most recently last week,” the spokesperson added. “We encourage New Yorkers to help keep all of our parks clean by properly disposing of their trash.”

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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