Nelson Hayes with neighbors Kelly Lennox and Anthony Wiebking.
When Nelson Hayes moved to the 300 block of West 28th Street in Remington in April 2014, he was greeted by an unwanted neighbor in the city-owned alley that ran adjacent to his backyard: rats. Hayes decided to act, and after encountering some initial resistance from the city, he is now on the path to getting the alley cleaned up and cleared of the rodents.
“I used to keep a trash out back,” Hayes said in comments to the AFRO of the realization that rats had migrated from the alley running behind his home into his backyard, attracted by his garbage, “but I don’t keep it there anymore because they’re just rampant.”
In May, Hayes says he called the Department of Public Works to inspect the alley in anticipation of a rat rubout, and to see if they could pave it in order to prevent future infestations.
“They looked at my yard, they looked at my neighbors yard,” said Hayes. “Although they said they didn’t find any rat holes in the yard, they did find plenty of them in the alley. But they can’t do the rat rubout until the alley get’s cleaned up, and I want to know whose job it is to clean the alley, because that stuff was there before I got here, and I feel as though it’s the city’s responsibility.”
The Alley behind the 300 block of West 28th St.
Not content with this response from the city, Hayes set about drawing up a petition to Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, detailing that he had been told by public works that nothing could be done until the alley was cleaned up, and that paving the alley in order to prevent future infestation would be billed to the residents of the 300 block of West 28th St. The petition requested that Clarke visit the area in order to discuss a resolution with residents.
Hayes had set out to collect signatures on June 11, and managed 40 names the first day. Two neighbors who live on the 2800 block of Huntingdon Ave., one block west of Hayes, spoke to the AFRO about their experience with rats in the neighborhood.
“The rat problem is the whole neighborhood really,” said Anthony Wiebking, who noted that his yard is only rat free because his dog is efficient at chasing them away.
“But I don’t want my dog chasing rats all the time either because she’s going to hurt herself or she’s going to destroy the fence to get to the rats. Something does need to be done,” Said Wiebking.
“Anytime you pick anything up there’s dead rats underneath,” said Kelly Lennox, who lives on Huntingdon Ave. with Wiebking, of her experience cleaning things up around the neighborhood.
“The dead ones are present and I see kids playing out there, and it’s not a healthy situation,” added Wiebking.
Hayes was still in the process of collecting signatures when the AFRO contacted Clarke’s office for comment. Council Assistant Morgan Jones took Hayes’s information and spoke to him shortly thereafter.
Clarke followed up with the AFRO by email.
“The City is indeed responsible for the alley clean-up, although individual residents have a responsibility to keep their own trash disposal in order (in cans with lids for trash),” said Clarke in the email. “By copy, I am asking that the alley behind the 300 block (northside) of West 28th Street be thoroughly cleaned so as to permit for the rat rubout required and that we be informed when work is completed so as to ask Rat Rubout to immediately begin abatement.”