Rodents Run Rampant

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An infestation of rats in the apartment building at 130-150 Covert Ave. was a prime topic of concern at the most recent Stewart Manor Board of Trustees meeting.

“We have a major rat problem over there. They’re coming across to residents’ homes,” Stewart Manor Deputy Fire Chief Tom Skinner told the trustees.

Skinner said the single biggest problem drawing the rats was uncovered trash containers on the property occupied by the 50-unit apartment building south of fire department headquarters on Covert Avenue. “It’s terrible. It’s overflowing from the apartments,” he said.

Residents at the village board meeting also complained about the rats.

Skinner said he notified the county Department of Health two years ago when a similar problem arose at the same apartment building.

Stewart Manor Mayor Gerard Tangredi said garbage collection at the site is a village code enforcement issue. He said county inspections are conducted every two years, but the village could notify the county health department of the problem again.

He said the garbage was just one problem with the apartment building, which he said is in bad condition. “They need to do a lot of work,” Tangredi said.  

On Thursday afternoon, most of the garbage containers on the grounds of the apartment building had lids on them. But Jorge Suarez, who identified himself as building superintendent, acknowledged there was a problem with excess garbage on the premises on the weekend. He said he is forced to put garbage in bags because of the overflow from the garbage containers.

But as provided an informal tour of the building’s perimeter, he pointed out the presence of rat traps and said the problem is being addressed.

“The exterminators are coming every month,” Suarez said.

And Suarez also said the rats appear to be coming onto the property from the direction of a weathered wooden structure abutting the northeast corner of the property. Suarez said he has seen rats coming onto the apartment building property from the structure, which he said belongs to the village.

Suarez also said a county sewer main on the east side of Covert Avenue near the south end of the property had regularly been overflowing during heavy rains through a manhole cover on the sidewalk.

Tangredi and Skinner could not be reached for comment about Suarez’s contention about the trail the rats take to the apartment building or the sewer issue.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, residents also raised questions about the future of the gas and auto service station on the southeast corner of the intersection of Covert and Tulip Avenues.

Tangredi said county fire marshals had already determined that the service station’s aging gas tanks must be replaced. He said he didn’t know what the time frame would be for removing the tanks—or whether the owner will replace the tanks and maintain the service station.

“We do know the tanks are at the end of their life span,” Tangredi said, adding the tanks must be brought up to current fire code standards.

Trustee John Egan said he doubted the site would be a gas station again after the old tanks are removed because it would be “inordinately expensive” to restore the site.

Skinner said the owner would face an expensive job if the soil around the tanks needed to be removed and decontaminated before new gas tanks could be installed on the site.

The owner of the gas station was not on the site late last week and an attempts to get a response to a comment from him about the situation were unavailing.

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