Rats on the run at Atlantic Yards?

Rats on the run at Atlantic Yards?
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Rat-plagued residents of Prospect Heights will get relief from the rodent infestation caused by the Atlantic Yards project — courtesy of the developer himself.

Bruce Ratner’s company announced last week that it would reimburse residents for rat-proof garbage cans in response to criticism from neighbors who claim that construction of the Barclays Center arena has spawned a booming, out-of-control rodent population that is feasting on unprotected sidewalk trash.

“It’s a good step, but it’s one piece of the puzzle,” said Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association.

The company agreed to tackle the problem after a wave of protest from residents dealing with the fallout of Ratner’s construction of the 19,000-seat arena for the Brooklyn-bound Nets — the first phase of a currently stalled, $4.9-billion, 16-tower megadevelopment.

Ratner’s company agreed to also install more garbage cans at the construction site itself after Health Department inspectors blamed construction workers’ poor food disposal habits for the rat problem.

Neighbors have long sought relief from a plague of rats that allegedly began when excavation work for the arena began in 2007. Since then, the area has become a veritable Mecca for rats, who build their nests near ready sources of water and food waste. Storing trash inside of enclosed, rodent-proof containers — instead of in garbage bags left overnight on the street — is a proven method of pest control, along with setting rat baits, according to the Department of Health.

The developer declined to bait the perimeter of the project, as some residents requested, but that work is already being done by the city. The Health Department said it had stepped up its poison control effort near the Atlantic Yards project after seeing a spike in rat-related calls to 311.

“The Department [is] giving special attention to this area in response to these rat complaints,” spokeswoman Susan Craig said.

Company spokesman Joe DePlasco did not provide details about the rat-proof receptacles, or how residents could get the vouchers to buy them. But neighbors were optimistic that the rats were on the run — for now.

But Tracy Collins, who lives on Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, said he’s worried that the problem will return once the Barclays Center starts welcoming throngs of basketball fans — and the litter they leave behind.

“It’s going to last for who knows how long,” he said.