At a recent City Council meeting, Connie Mele, a resident of Laurel Avenue, held her index fingers a foot or so apart as she told Mayor Tim Tenke and council members, “I went out on my deck around [9 p.m.] last night, and I saw two huge rats like this.”
A handful of Landing-area residents shared stories of what they said were increasingly frequent encounters with unwelcome ro-dents in their neighborhood. Rat sightings are becoming a regular, though no less disturbing, occurrence, they said, and dead ones had been found in garages, sheds and even in a barbecue grill. “Somebody’s gotta find the infestation,” Mele said, “because it’s there.”
Based on reports from residents, the problem appears to be confined to a small area of Glen Cove, about one square mile bounded by Laurel Avenue, Crescent Beach Road and Landing Road.
It will mainly fall to residents to address the problem. Tenke called a neighborhood meeting for those affected in the days after the council meeting to provide residents with information and discuss their options. He told them that the city was looking into buying rat traps in bulk so that homeowners would be able to buy them at a discount.
Tenke noted that he had been in contact with the Nassau County Department of Health, which had, in the weeks prior to the council meeting, sent employees to search for the source of the problem or conditions that could be exacerbating it. Resident Patty Pilla, who also lives on Laurel Avenue, expressed concern at the council meeting that the department investigators hadn’t been able to fully survey the area because they were only allowed to examine properties where residents were at home.
Tenke said that county officials had told him they could not determine where the ro-dents were coming from.
Some council meeting attendees, and several more people on Facebook, speculated that the disturbance from the Garvies Point Waterfront development forced the rats that live near the construction site out of their burrows.
Tenke said that county officials told him that was unlikely. “They said that [the rats] are probably not going to come from that far away,” he said.
Pilla wasn’t persuaded by that argument. “[Construction has] been going on for two years,” she said. “They travel. It’s only a mile.”
Some residents said that the Health Department investigators and independent exterminators had told them that the rats were coming from Welwyn Preserve, which is also about a mile away.
According to a fact sheet on rats compiled by the Health Department, rats can move a mile or more “in the spring, fall and when they are disturbed.”
Susan Winkler, who attended the neighborhood meeting, wrote on Facebook, “One thing that I took from it is that we have to all work together as a community to keep our city clean and safe as best as we can.” The county apparently agrees: One of its informational pamphlets refers to “rat control” as “a community effort.”
It’s an effort that Pilla’s husband, Ken, who spoke at the council meeting, hopes will bring the rat problem in the Landing area to an end, and fast. “When the winter comes,” he said, “they’ll be looking for warm places to live.”