Rats overrun New York City parks

- Upper West Side playgrounds have been so overrun with rats, that when our cameras went to get a look in August, we found kids standing around counting the critters. Parents reported seeing rats run through sandboxes and jumping in strollers.

"They're pretty visible and it's gross," said Lindsay Bennun who takes her daughter to Hippo playground in Riverside Park. "You want to be here with your kids and play and not see rodents running around."

"It's a huge problem especially in the sandbox it's hard when rats are all over the place," said mom Aline Bakker.

Parents are grossed out and fed up and it's finally gotten the attention of City Hall.

"I understand how upsetting that is to people, how unnerving it is and obviously unhealthy parents should ever have to worry about rats in the same sandbox as their children," said Mayor Bill De Blasio, at a press conference Thursday.

The mayor and other city officials announced a $750,000 investment to try to eradicate the rats at the following schools and playgrounds.

• Henry Neufeld Playground
• River Run Playground
• Hippo Playground
• Dinosaur Playground
• Joan of Arc Memorial
• Theodore Roosevelt Park
• Diana Ross Playground
• Booker T. Washington Playground

• P.S. 75 Emily Dickinson
• P.S. 165 Robert E. Simon
• M.S. 54 Booker T. Washington
• P.S. 811 Mickey Mantle

"Our goal is to beat back the rats," de Blasio said.

As part of the plan old wire trash cans will be replaced by big belly solar compacting bins, baiting will be increased and more pest control staff will be added.

"I'm so relived to hear that," said Bennun. "We've called 311 a lot about this so I'm happy to hear something is being done."

The mayor says all elements of the plan will be in place within six months. Meanwhile Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal will hold a  rat academy tonight at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on West 83rd st. It goes until 7:30pm.

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