Rats Overrun Plaza on the Brooklyn subway station that the mayor promised to assist
Local residents say this vacant lot is a big part of the rat problem around Brooklyn’s Newkirk Plaza. June 16, 2021. | Gabriel Sandoval / THE CITY
This article was originally posted on June 21st at 9:13 pm EDT by. released THE TOWN
Every morning Aida Torres scares away rodents, then she keeps cleaning in front of and behind her Mexican restaurant Don Burrito in Brooklyn’s Newkirk Plaza.
In the afternoon, she pours chlorine on the floor to keep the critters from hopping around in their alcove on top of the small mall on the B and Q subway stops in Flatbush.
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At night, she tightly seals off every nook and cranny of the outside of her business for fear of a complete rat invasion of the kitchen and grocery storage area of her restaurant.
Javier Saez, owner of Almac Hardware, a long-time Newkirk Plaza company, took this photo of a dead rat in the middle of the pedestrian street next to the subway station.
“These are not little rats,” Torres told THE CITY in Spanish. “You are huge.”
Torres and others in the neighborhood say they are facing an ever-growing rat infestation problem for which no city or state agency is taking responsibility.
On Thursday, leaders of the nonprofit Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC) gathered with locals, elected officials and city council candidates in the square to raise awareness of the crisis, which many say came from Mayor Bill de Blasio, city officials and the Metropolitan . The traffic authority was brushed aside.
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According to the MTA, the square belongs to the city.
“We need the New York City government to see what is happening here – and we need it now!” Robin Redmond, executive director of FDC, told the crowd.
Redmond urged parishioners to call 311 to file a complaint when they encounter a rat, so city officials may be forced to take corrective action.
Candidates in parade
At the rally, several candidates vying for the position of temporary councilor Mathieu Eugene (D-Brooklyn) – including Harriet Hines, Kenya Handy-Hilliard, Edwin Raymond, Josue Pierre and Blake Morris – took advantage of the moment to appeal at the last minute Voters on how they would address local issues, including how to deal with rats.
Morris, who works as a volunteer attorney for FDC, said the nonprofit needed money “so they could hire the pest control and maintenance staff to clean the place.”
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In addition to discarded food from guests and commuters, locals deny a vacant, fenced property on the corner of Newkirk Avenue and Marlborough Road, which borders the square and was once a gas station, contributing to the rat problem.
Gabriel Sandoval / THE CITYRobin Redmond, Executive Director of Flatbush Development Corporation, talks about rats in Brooklyn’s Newkirk Plaza. June 17, 2021.
“Everyone always says, ‘Oh, we have to do something for the property that used to be the gas station,'” said Laura Campbell-Lui, a 21-year-old resident of Ditmas Park.
At the rally, State Representative Robert Carroll (D-Brooklyn) reprimanded what he called “absent landlords in the area,” and said they should be held accountable.
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“If they don’t take care of their property, we have to find a way for the city to take that property back,” said Carroll, whose district is nearby but does not include the square. “It’s not a place for you … to store belongings and rats.”
“That is unacceptable,” he added. “And we have to stop that.”
Pursuit of supermarket
A tall metal barrier surrounds the corner lot owned by Solly Mann. Community members argue that the barrier that has existed for years is illegal.
Mann’s son, Teddy Mann, told THE CITY that the barrier was originally built to prevent people from throwing food on the property, which had contributed to the rat population.
He denied claims that his father was an absent owner and said they would do everything possible to curb the spread of vermin.
“We’re going to destroy this crowd,” said Mann. “We put poison in it for the rats.”
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He said his father had submitted a plan to the city’s Department of Construction to build a single-story building that would house a supermarket like Trader Joe’s. But because of the pandemic, he said his father waited for the paperwork to be processed.
“We are in a pandemic right now and have to be patient,” he said.
At a 2018 City Hall meeting in Flatbush, Brooklyn’s Community Board 14’s Alvin Berk reiterated the neighborhood’s concerns about the “ambiguous” ownership of Newkirk Plaza, noting that jurisdiction between the MTA and city authorities is becoming unclear.
The mayor admitted that “it was not fair to the community that this went without a solution for so long”. He promised to take care of the problem.
“By this summer we will be resolving these issues so people know that Newkirk Plaza is being cleaned and properly stored for the community,” said de Blasio.
But the mayor did not keep his promise, emphasize locals and the outlet Bklyner.
Meanwhile, rodent eradication and the improvement of Newkirk Plaza has been a priority for the local council for about a decade, said chairwoman Jo Ann Brown.
“Every year we ask the city in our district needs [Statement] Take care of this problem, take care of this place, bring owners and it clearly has not happened yet, ”Brown said.
Brown told THE CITY that there are easy ways to improve the place.
She said the city’s Department of Transportation could include the square in one of its pedestrian programs aimed at improving the quality of life, and the city’s economic development company could put out a call to find a suitable square manager in charge of rat freedom.
Local resident Carol Gladden said she avoids the square and the subway stop when she can, and instead takes taxis. She said when she moved to the area two years ago she saw so many rats in the square and around that she told her husband she would never return.
“You’re used to us,” said Gladden. They are clever creatures and know that there is food everywhere. “
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