Beverly residents want the city to help with rat problems | Local news


BEVERLY – rats hang on pear trees. Rats eat through trash cans. Rats invade houses.

Local residents who attended a public hearing at City Hall on Monday evening about – you guessed it, rats – didn’t paint a pretty picture of what they think is a growing problem in the city.

“I spent all of last summer fighting these things,” said Steven Miller, a Hillcrest Avenue resident. “It’s just so intense. You create a solution and you work right around it.”

The meeting was requested by Ward 4 councilor Scott Houseman, who said the councilors had received many complaints from local residents for a number of years about “rodent problems” and the city’s approach to addressing them.

“Despite much private and public discussions with and between city officials and the public on the matter, the city has made no apparent progress or changes in the approach or budget allocations to address the issue,” wrote Houseman in a letter to the city council.

About 30 people attended the meeting, including 10 residents who shared their own battles with rats. Chase Street resident Christine DePalma showed up with a billboard with seven pictures of rats that she said had been taped in her neighborhood in recent weeks.

“In a week I’ll see more rats in my neighborhood than my human neighbors,” DePalma told city councilors. “I can no longer garden or use my garden. I feel like it’s a war on rodents.”

Lothrop Street resident Jenna Mayer said she and her husband were so excited to buy their first home last year only to be greeted by rats on day one.

“I’m literally scared of my own garden and basement,” she said. “I moved out of town to enjoy the place and I can’t even use half of it.”

Some local residents said construction projects were causing some of the rat problems. Others pointed to deals with overflowing dumpsters. Many of the residents live in the downtown neighborhoods between Cabot and Rantoul Streets.

“I’ve received more emails and calls and probably worked harder on this topic than anyone,” said Stacy Ames, councilor for Ward 3, who represents the area. “I can imagine how difficult it is for everyone to reach the city and talk about the subject. It’s not that convenient. I give you all the honor to be here tonight. “

But Ames added that the rat problem is a “community-wide problem”.

Houseman said he requested the “fact-finding” public hearing to begin the process of investigating what role the city should play in solving the problem. He said he was working with the city law firm to draft an ordinance to control the rats in the city.

“What I’ve heard from my constituents is that they have been left to their own devices in dealing with the problem,” said Houseman. “I think this is a public health issue and I think the city government can and should play a more active role in it.”

Mayor Mike Cahill said he welcomes more discussion about what steps the city can take. He said the city requires a pest control plan when a construction project is presented to the planning committee. There are also requirements to bait and catch rats when National Grid installs new subway lines, he said.

Cahill said the city recently stepped in due to unusual circumstances to fix rat problems in two houses, but not every time.

“We’ve been wrestling with what the right approach is for years,” said Cahill.

Michael Becker, a Waltham Pest Services exterminator who was invited to the meeting by city officials, said there was no “one size fits all” solution to rat problems. He recommended that local residents ensure that their trash cans are tightly closed and that companies do not have overcrowded dumpsters.

“Rats, mice, they’ve been here forever,” said Becker. “I hate to bring you the bad news, but it’s not going anywhere.”

Putnam Street resident Heidi Roberts, who is president of Friends of Beverly Animals, said she had a rat problem in her home last spring but said she did not want to use poison to get rid of it.

“We have to be very human about this,” said Roberts. “Rats also have a right to live.”

The contributing author Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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