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Rat Problem Plagues Portion of Downtown

Rats in the back alley of Maple Street have caused distress among the residents and establishments in the area.

Behind the restaurants and establishments on Maple Street, in an alleyway with several dumpsters, lies a problem that has adjacent residences and town services in distress.

Next to the dumpsters: the 6 Cherry St. residency, as well as the Danvers Historical Society's have seen rats along the property line. According to the Historical Society, they do not have rats inside Tapley Hall but are concerned that if the situation continues, the rats may look for shelter when the cold weather sets in. 

The problem, attorney Marsha Donovan explained, is because the dumpsters are consistently an open food source, the rats are being fed, and then are burrowing in the yards directly next to the alley.

"It's a never-ending nightmare," she said.

Donovan went on to say that her client, the owner of 6 Cherry St., is "running out of funds," because all of her money is being spent on rat control. One of the downstairs tenants has left because of the problem, and the other is getting fed up, she said. She urged the Board of Health to remove the dumpsters.

Devin Walsh, buildings and grounds restoration manager at the said they have to pick up trash that blows over the fence into Tapley Hall's back yard from the dumpster area.

"The smell is rotten," he said.

Because there are multiple dumpsters, and several restaurants and businesses from Maple Street using them, the board cannot point out a specific establishment causing a problem. 

This issue, according to Health Inspector Mark Carleo, was first cited in 2008. Carleo suggested an overall renovation of the alleyway, citing that it was, in general, a low sanitation area, with garbage spilling out of the dumpsters, two grease pads in poor condition, and a constant water supply.

"We don't want to wait for a plague outbreak," he said, stating that eliminating the dumpsters would be a preliminary measure.

Board of Health Director Peter Mirandi, who referred to the problem as a "blight" rather than public health emergency, questioned if removing the dumpsters would solve the overall problem. Orkin Pest Control representative Tom Cafiero said eliminating uncovered areas that the rats can reside in would also be necessary.

The Board of Health motioned to have the dumpsters removed within one week, in accordance with the Downtown Improvement Committee's input.

If the dumpsters are removed from the alley, businesses would be able to opt for a daily trash pick-up for $10 a day, which Donovan noted was not comparable to the amount of money her client has had to spend on rat control.

Orkin Pest Control will also be conducting a sanitary survey of the area to determine the problem at hand, to be presented to the Downtown Improvement Committee at its Tuesday meeting.

walktofast October 13, 2011 at 05:41 PM
The rats downtown are nothing new. Residents have been dealing with this issue in the day light hours all spring/summer. The board of health keeps saying spend your money on pest control. Pest control can only help so much when the down town area has an issue. Not everyone is going have money to hire someone to deal with pest control. Maybe if the BOH took a proactive stance and reached out to the businesses and neighbors it could be more successful. So far those that have reached out to the BOH get the same thing...attitude from the inspector and told to spend $. No one will admit the rat population this summer has been huge. Seems interesting the railbeds were all cleaned this past spring for the rail trail. The rats had to go some where. Oh and we know mr. inspector you have never seen a rat on the rail trail (tell that to all the dog walkers who have).

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