There are times when our posts read more like The Onion than a neighborhood blog, but this is unfortunately very real. We received this tip from a reader, Tom, who walks his dog by Ninth Avenue and 28th Street and has spotted numerous rats all over the area. This block is the home to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Chelsea Health Clinic, which also abuts a playground and a school. Tom says that he can not believe that the Department of Health allows people to sit on benches on which rats have crawled over and defecated. In addition, each night several bags of garbage are placed on the sidewalk and serve as a buffet for dozens of rats.
We offer these photos as proof. It is very difficult to capture rats on film. They are very fast and there is usually only a split second to suppress the horror of rabid rodents and take the picture. Nearly every passerby, including the employees, affirmed that the area was swarming with rats. One 43-year-old Chelsea resident, Steve, said the rats had been there ever since he could remember. "This park used to be called Bum Park. The place was full of bums and rats until Guiliani took over." Since then, people have moved out of the park and shrubbery was planted.
But the shrubs just serve to hide the rat holes. "Some of them are huge." he said. "And with the construction that's going on by the school they are more active than ever." Steve was fairly nonchalant about the fact that rats are prospering on the premises of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Steve said, "Hey, that's just symbolic of New York."