Chicken. Salami. Pepperoni. Peanut Butter. Fish food.
At first glance, it might sound like the start of a grocery list Cheektowaga residents hope to take to the newly proposed 183,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter on Walden Avenue.
The list is just a sampling of some of the bait residents near the 2500 Walden Ave. address say they've laid out in their yards to trap rats that have taken up residence near the existing Super Flea & Farmers' Market that developers proposed to raze to make way for the new supercenter.
Before that demolition is executed, however, residents told the Town Board at a meeting Monday that they want some assurances there will be some rat control and remediation efforts, lest more of the scavenging rodents be released into their neighborhood.
"I'm welcoming Walmart. They're going to be good citizens in our neighborhood," said Michelle Balk, of Kingston Lane. "Someone from Super Flea has to do something. Super Flea created this problem."
Balk, who lives three doors from Zoerb Avenue, behind the Super Flea, said she was forced to hire an exterminator at a cost of $350, with hundreds more dollars expected in follow-up calls, to deal with the rat infestation on her property.
"They're pretty sizable, these rats, because I've seen them running around my backyard," Balk said.
One of Balk's neighbors told board members the rats are wise to trapping methods and seem to mock efforts to catch them. The resident said he has three box traps on his property placed by Erie County, along with eight of his own traps.
"The rats stand right on top [of the box traps]," the resident said, explaining that they also walk, uninterested, past the other eight traps he has personally baited in his yard.
"I've used chicken, salami, pepperoni," he said. "I've used peanut butter. I caught a bird today."
Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary F. Holtz acknowledged that there was a rat infestation problem around the Super Flea - and throughout Cheektowaga. Holtz said she hoped the town would encourage remediating the structure before it's torn down.
That, coupled with the expected introduction of tote garbage containers in early November, should go a long way toward ameliorating the rat problem in Cheektowaga, Holtz said.
"We have to find a solution, plain and simple," said Deputy Supervisor Stanley J. Kaznowski III, adding that residents have raised an important issue that needs to be addressed with Walmart personnel and developers at an upcoming public information session Oct. 29.
Kaznowski said he has also witnessed the rat problem firsthand in his own neighborhood near Harlem Road.
Upgrades to Harlem Road in recent years, residents said, may have "shaken up" the rat population, scattering them throughout the neighborhood.
Harlem Road resident Eric Schroeder said he catches two rats per night in "snap traps" at his house.
"They're everywhere," Schroeder said.
Schroeder said he has trapped 10 in the last week alone using fish food as bait. That's a situation neighbors like Balk behind the Super Flea don't want to see repeated on a larger scale in their neck of the woods. They already have enough rats, she said.
In other news from Monday's board meeting:
. Holtz announced that she filed her 2013 tentative budget with the town clerk earlier Monday. The $86.8 million spending plan is up roughly $1.1 million from 2012 because of rising employee retirement costs. The average tax bill is expected to increase about 0.42 percent under the supervisor's proposal, or about $6.91 on a home worth $100,000.
. The town announced that there would be a joint meeting on the issue of school consolidation in Cheektowaga at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Cleveland Hill Union Free School District, 105 Mapleview Road.
. The board set the hours of 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31 for Halloween trick-or-treating.