October 23, 2021

Rats gone from Dexter Park?

Little to no rodent activity in weeks; mulch to be removed

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Mayor Brian Tobin closes Dexter Park while talking with city officials about rats seen around playground equipment. File Photo.

Mulch at Dexter Park’s playground in Cortland will be removed now that little to no rat activity has been observed in passing weeks.

“I did speak with Sweeney’s (Pest Elimination) … They have had very little activity in the bait boxes over the last week to 10 days,” said John McNerney, director of the city Youth Bureau, at a meeting Tuesday to update neighbors on the rat infestation since August.

The rats migrated to the park from a neighboring property, city officials said in August, drawn there by a neighbor who had been feeding them, intending to feed cats.

Most of Dexter Park, bounded by River, Elm and Franklin streets, has been closed since Aug. 10 after residents complained of the infestation. The tennis courts and park pavilion remain open.

William Knickerbocker, director of city codes, said there has also been no rat activity on neighboring properties since the last meeting in August.

The next step is for the city to remove the mulch at the playground, McNerney said. “We have contracted with Contento’s to remove the mulch,” he said. The earliest Contento’s can remove the mulch is next week.

The playground will then sit mulchless for a couple of weeks to ensure there is no more rat activity.

Replacing the mulch with fresh mulch — which the rats were burrowing beneath — will cost $5,000, Mc- Nerney said. Mayor Brian Tobin told the handful of attendees that if anyone sees anything they should let city officials know immediately so the problem can be addressed.

“The sooner that we know if there is one or two (rats), the quicker we can start trying to track them down,” he said.

Tuesday night’s meeting followed two others where neighbors of the park voiced their concerns. Previous meetings brought forth pictures of large rats and tales of combating them, as well as displeasure with the way the city is handling the situation.

The city has been working with Sweeney’s Pest Control to handle the rat problem, using poisoned traps.