Jennifer Millman

I-Team: NYC Tries to Make Amends for Summer Camp Rat Drama With Broadway, Mets Tickets and More

"This is over the top; they're going to be smiling all day," the director of the community center said. "They're going to be talking about this for the rest of the summer."

What to Know

  • NYC is trying to make amends to children who faced disgusting conditions at a summer camp inside a NYCHA community center
  • The summer camp at the Jackie Robinson Community Center in East Harlem has been overrun with rats, roaches and maggots for weeks
  • On Thursday, the city offered the kids a series of fun adventures, from Broadway and Mets tickets to museum experiences and a Bronx zoo trip

Mayor de Blasio is trying to make amends Thursday with a few dozen children who missed out on weeks of summer camp fun because their community center in East Harlem housing was overrun with rats and maggots.

Frustration and confusion had been boiling over for parents and children, who were subjected to disgusting conditions and saw repeated efforts to relocate the camp at the Jackie Robinson Community Center to another location foiled -- until this week. 

On Thursday, though, there were squeals of excitement after a representative for the mayor showed up to say the kids and their parents would be treated to several special trips to try to make up for the lost summer. Among those treats: tickets to "The Physics Show" on Broadway, a "total experience" trip to the Bronx Zoo, tickets to a Mets game for each kid and a parent chaperone this month, a trip to the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey and an overnight for children and parents at the Museum of Natural History in the fall. 

"I felt happy because we can go on more trips and have fun," said camper Nadia Praileau. 

Another camper, Wisdom Champaign, echoed Praileau's sentiments, saying he felt "surprised and excited." 

Yet a third described the attempt at amends as only a child could: "We were so sad. He was trying to make us happy." 

The director of the Jackie Robinson Center, Ashia Broussard, acknowledged when asked by News 4 that it appeared the mayor's office was doing a bit of damage control, but she said that ultimately didn't matter.

"It's not about me. It's about the kids, so as long as the kids are happy at this point, I am happy," Broussard said. "This is over the top; they're going to be smiling all day. They're going to be talking about this for the rest of the summer."

The mayor's administration had been working on the problem for weeks. Back in July, de Blasio insisted there was plenty of time to get the rat-, roach- and maggot-infested camp back up and running. Despite pledges from the administration to clean and sanitize the camp, it has not passed inspection. And several efforts by the city to relocate it to a nearby school failed until this week.

As for the community center, the Housing Authority told the I-Team it had completed the rat remediation at the center. But as recently as Monday, city health inspectors who showed up to review said it did not pass inspection. 

The Health Department confirmed Wednesday the reason for the failed inspection was because of issues with cleanliness and cracks in the ceiling where rats were nesting and decomposing. 

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