East Village Playground Overrun With Rats

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    NEWSLETTERS

    East Village parents are complaining about a rat problem in Tompkins Square Park. (Published Wednesday, Jul 27, 2011)

    In 2010, New York Magazine voted Tompkins Square Park the city's "Best Playground."

    Now parents say it's dangerous and repulsive for children because of rats that have overtaken the public space.

    NBC New York even saw the rodents running inches from barefoot children.

    "They come -- just as you saw -- during the day and I don't think it's safe for the kids playing in park," said Elsie Ruiz, who lives in the East Village.

    The $1.5 million playground, which is only two years old, is now surrounded by hundreds of rat holes.

    "Once it gets a little bit darker, they come out," said Sharon Blythe, a parent.

    In some corners of the park, rats and kids are sharing the same sandbox.

    Fed-up parents have now formed a group to take action.

    "We realized one two or three parents calling 311 is nothing compared to 200 parents calling on the government and parks department for action," says Chad Marlow, who formed the Tompkins Square Park & Playground Parents' Association.

    The Parks Department tells NBC New York: "While we are not placing rat poison in Tompkins Square Park out of concern for the resident red-tailed hawk, Parks is replacing the garbage baskets with garbage drums, preventing rats from accessing its insides."

    Follow Tom Llamas on Twitter @TomLlamas4NY