The pesky rat issue in Lancaster is not going away – even though a handful of residents are speaking to the issue before the Town Board.
Monday was no different, when Tobian Breidert, of Riemers Avenue, spoke strongly to the board, again demanding more action and insisting that the town consider buying garbage totes to help abate the problem, like many neighboring communities have done.
Breidert and Supervisor Dino Fudoli clashed, as they did last month when she raised the issue. Breidert and Fudoli argued openly Monday about whether rats spread disease, with Breidert raising her voice and refusing to back off her point.
“I don’t want you to blow me off,” said Breidert, who complained about finding rats in her backyard and under her pool.
Fudoli listened but reiterated that not everyone wants garbage totes. In fact, he said he has received six letters since mid-July from people not wanting totes. “Rats chew through totes and plastic garbage cans,” Fudoli said. “The county told me that we do not meet anything ‘major’ for rats ... It is a very costly option and I’m not sure the town is willing to absorb $2 million to $3 million.”
In the end, town officials seemed willing to study the issue in a committee – but refused to guarantee they’d be pushing for totes, which many kept insisting would be a huge expense for the town and its taxpayers. Furthermore, the town’s refuse contract is in place through the end of 2014, preventing the town from doing anything different between now and then.
Assistant Building Inspector Scott Pease said he and top town officials met recently with Erie County officials about the rat issue and have a map of where baiting is ongoing.
Pease emphasized Monday that towns that have totes in place still have rats and that totes are not a cure-all. Pease said Tonawanda still has huge problems and Amherst still is challenged with rats – despite both communities having totes. Their problems are “far worse” than Lancaster’s, he said.
Pease said a dumping station on Walden Avenue could be contributing to the rat issue and warrants further examination.
Pease stressed that the town is putting together a flier and educational packets for the community about rats, and already has sent letters to at least 93 residents reminding them of the requirement to secure their garbage cans with locking lids.
“I’m going to educate people and go from there. This is strictly an FYI over the next few weeks,” said Pease, who has visited some of the areas where complaints have surfaced. “We’re taking it very, very seriously.”
But Pease, Fudoli and some council members cautioned they will not be quick to agree to demanding totes for Lancaster taxpayers. “We’re not going to spend millions of dollars,” Pease said. “We have to take care of today and focus on neighborhoods.”