Friday, June 2, 2017

NYC Department Of Health Says Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 Garbage And Rat Infestation Is A Severe Crisis Reports RIOC - Roosevelt Island Rat Academy Course June 29

I had hoped to avoid any Roosevelt Island rat stories today, but it was not to be.

According to statement late this afternoon from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) is working diligently with the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to correct the rat infestation problems in the northern courtyard outside of P.S./I.S 217. We are pleased that all entities have come together with the Department of Sanitation, recognizing the dangers of this issue on Roosevelt Island, which the DOHMH has called a severe crisis.

Working with the Department of Sanitation, P.S./I.S. 217 has changed its garbage handling procedures and DOE is procuring new garbage containers for the school. DOE’s exterminator has also modified its procedures and will be securing bait boxes around the facility in addition to following up each week. Based on yesterday’s meeting, the exterminator worked at the facility this morning. While RIOC is somewhat frustrated by the lack of a clear schedule from the DOE for completing all tasks needed to destroy the rats’ habitat, the DOE Intergovernmental Affairs office has committed to presenting us a timeline early next week. RIOC will communicate any updates on the situation as the information is received. RIOC’s facilities department stands ready to assist DOE, if necessary.

In addition, the DOHMH has coordinated with RIOC to present a Rat Academy course to encourage best practices in rat prevention. The course will be held on Thursday, June 29th at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd (543 Main St.), from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. All Roosevelt Island building managers, facility managers, property owners, and residents are encouraged to attend.
RIOC President Susan Rosenthal adds:
Unfortunately, PS/IS 217 did not bring this issue to our attention until recently and but for Frank Farance's involvement, I would not have known.
Mr. Farance provides these pictures of rats seen yesterday in the PS/IS 217 schoolyard area.

Roosevelt Island's NYC Council Member Ben Kallos noted today:
I am concerned about the ongoing rat problem at P.S./.I.S. 217 and am grateful to residents who have reached out as well as coordination with President Susan Rosenthal at Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation with whom we've had daily communication.

I am disappointed that City agencies had been slow to respond and have personally escalated this issue to Mayor de Blasio's office at City Hall. My office has worked with others to set up and join a group of experts from the Department of Education, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Department of Sanitation for a walk through to be followed by direct action. We have been working closely with Roosevelt Islander which first brought this issue to our attention and will continue to monitor.
I asked PS/IS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman and PTA President Erin Olavesen for comment. They declined to comment. I've been told that Ms Beckman does not intend to reply to my inquires. Apparently, Ms Beckman believes she is being treated unfairly on Roosevelt Islander because I allow Mr. Farance to post comments criticizing conditions at the school.

Below is a statement from Ms Olavesen sent this morning to others that I obtained regarding steps the school is taking regarding the rats:
A few things to note:
  • The DOE exterminator was at school this morning to secure and set new bait. He is here weekly.
  • The DOE is going to scrape out the planters and pave part of the area next to the cafeteria. The plan for the the remaining area is to add mesh/gravel so the area can not be tunneled into by rodents and vermin. The school is hopeful that this work will be completed by the end of June, with the start date being in the coming days. With anything in the DOE we haven't been guaranteed of this timeline.
  • The DOE is expediting the request for bins to store garbage. They should be here next week.
  • The representative from the Department of Health said that the process of exterminating rats would take 6-8 weeks.
Read the previous posts, including videos, on PS/IS 217 garbage and rat infestation.

Stay tuned.