Monday, May 22, 2017

Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 Courtyard Garbage Creates 5 Star Hotel For Hundreds Of Rats Charges Activist With NYC Rat Academy Training - NYC Department Of Health To Investigate Says Council Member Kallos' Office

According to Roosevelt Island activist Frank Farance, Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 courtyard has become a:


Mr Farance's description is from his comment to this April 28 post which included statement from a 4 River Road Tenant Tipster that:
PS/IS 217 doesn't put their garbage in containers and it's a playground for rats...
Responding to my inquiry about the the courtyard garbage and rats, PS/IS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman replied:
... Despite raising concerns with the NY Department of Sanitation, 217 has been advised by the Sanitation Department that 217 is not permitted to use dumpsters and the Sanitation Department from Queens does not always come to remove the school's garbage on the scheduled days.

We look forward to working with the community to improve the situation. We also look forward to working with our PTA, students, parents and members of the community to replant and rebuild this Spring.
Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA President Erin Olavesen adds:
217 is following the protocol of the Department of Sanitation. We have tried without success to have them consider an alternative such as a small dumpster. I know you have looped Ben Kallos in and the PTA and administration are also interested in seeing if he can help.

The DOE has come out to inspect the area and we are waiting to see what solutions are possible in creating a safe, clean egress.
As a mom, I absolutely understand the concerns with the rat situation behind the school. But it is something the school is proactively working to address. The Department of Education was out a few days ago in fact to assess the situation. (It wasn't possible to access all of the burrows until the roots of the removed trees were ground down, which was just recently completed.)

Additionally, the sanitation company that the DOE uses for our school does not permit the school to place its trash in plastic bins or to place a gate around it. The school is required to leave it in bags.

It's frustrating waiting for the wheels of the DOE system to turn. If anyone has specific questions or concerns, or has suggestions for solving these issue more quickly, I welcome you to contact me directly.
On May 18, 4 River Road Tipster Tenant reported:
I just watched a 217 kitchen worker throw 2 bags of food waste right on top of the rat trash pile just a few feet away from their cafeteria- a couple people from the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) came by to look at the alley and the rats...
A few hours later 4 River Road Tipster Tenant followed up:
Rira people were out looking at it, but after they left I saw the worker throw 2 more fresh bags of cafeteria garbage on to the pile.
Interesting- the trash is gone now! THere were at least 6 bags of it around noon...
Today, Mr Farance shares these photos taken yesterday (Sunday May 21) at the PS/IS 217 courtyard and reports:
PS/IS 217, Principal Mandana Beckman, PTA Allow More Vermin: Mosquitoes (Zika/West Nile?), Pigeons, Ants, and Bigger Rat Colonies.

More dumping food garbage, more rats ripping into bags,

very big ant problem,

pigeons found a new home, and rat colony appears to go further back to the plants on the west side of school (promenade).

I think the fly/mosquito problem is yet another health hazard.

The walls are swarming with young flies/mosquitoes. Given the food, moist soil, and standing water/liquids, the school might be a good breeding ground for flies/mosquitoes. (As a CERT member, I did Zika/West-Nile training last year, these are the kinds of conditions they asked us to report.)

- Does PS/IS 217 dump open garbage? Yes.
- Is this something the Principal can do something about? Yes, e.g., don't dump open garbage on top of the rat colonies, but it in the garbage area.
- Is this something the PTA can do something about? Yes, it can report the problem, it can complain to the principal.

Obviously, if these trivial solutions are not being done to reduce the hazard, the Principal/PTA doesn't care, or is ineffectual. Merchants on Roosevelt Island have been more responsible than PS/IS 217.

There's open food garbage left out for two days, that is rat infested, and now we have flies, mosquitoes, ants, and pigeons. Nothing you can do about that? Baloney!

And how do you feel about your neighbors in 2-4 River Road having to live with your garbage? How to you feel about potential Zika virus breeding ground and pregnant mothers?
Mr. Farance adds:
Recently, I did my Rat Academy training (yes, that's what it is called) on waste/rodent management as taught by NYC Department of Health (DoHMH) and Department of Sanitation (DSNY)....
RIRA's Island Services Committee Chair Aaron Hamburger writes today:
We are actively working on the problem. We've notified both the Dept. of Sanitation and the Board of Health and hope they will inspect the site soon. As you know, any trash outside, by New York City regulations, must be put in containers or bins that are tightly closed to prevent rats from getting to the waste food.

We also have a meeting with RIOC's President this Friday and are trying to get a meeting with PS 217's Principal.
NYC Council Member Ben Kallos' staff advises today that the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene:
...has just informed us that they are in the process of scheduling a walkthrough to see conditions.
Manhattan Community Board 8 program CB 8 Speaks recently interviewed Caroline Bragdon, Director of Neighborhood Intervention - NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene's Bureau of Veterinary & Pest Control on the Rat Academy.

Watch below. At the 24 minute 30 second mark, a discussion of what schools can do to properly remove garbage and control rat infestation.

Some supporters of PS/IS 217 have objected to Mr. Farance publicly reporting on the rat problem in the PS/IS 217 courtyard. For instance, one supporter asks Mr. Farance:
Why do you need to scare new families who intend to have their children there next year?! I have one child there and I will have my other child starting in the next school year....

I simply love the school! My child is very happy there, the teachers are amazing and I had the opportunity to meet other families and make new friends!

Rats?! We live in NYC!!! We see rats everywhere! Subway, streets , everywhere! If you go for a walk on Roosevelt Island you definitely see rats! Do you think they do not exist in other schools?! Yes, they do!

Regarding the PTA, Erin is doing her best and as she mentioned here, they are doing their best to solve the situation!

Please do not put more ashes into the fire....
My view is that without Mr. Farance calling attention to this issue, nothing would get done to solve the problem, or it would take much longer to be addressed.

More at April 28 post comments. 

UPDATE 5/23 -According to the 4 River Road Tenant Tipster this morning:
Clearly there's food waste from breakfast on some of these bags

Why is it taking 217/the city agencies so long to address this?
Roosevelt Island Public Safety was issuing tickets to cars parked in the PS/IS 217 Courtyard this morning. 4 River Road Tenant Tipster adds:
I saw a PSD person out there this am and they also just drove down that alley which rarely happens.

They are NYPD parking tickets- it looks like many were issued- multiple cars, some double parked...
By this afternoon the Courtyard was cleaned up.

UPDATE 7:50 PM - At 6:30 PM, the courtyard looked like this.