Fifth District Councilman David Marks said this week that he has worked out a compromise with Baltimore County Code Enforcement to deal with the rats that have become unwelcome visitors at the Rodgers Forge tot lot and some of the residential properties that surround it.
Marks had asked for a coordinated sweep of the area as quickly as possible to determine the source, as the Rodgers Forge Community Association had requested, considering the potential danger for tots and others.
But he said he was told by the Office of Permits an Inspections that a sweep couldn't be done before August because sweeps require manpower and the county has limited staff. Only two can be performed per week, and there were other communities with rat problems ahead of the Forge on the list.
"That is simply too long," Marks said, "so our office pushed for code enforcement to have an inspector walk the neighborhood to look at specific properties that the community association may feel could be contributing to the problem.
"We are arranging a date and time," he said.
The discovery of a 3-pound rat in one location and five smaller rats in another prompted association vice president Tyler Mays to seek the councilman's help in an e-mail June 13.
According to residents, the area has become a popular gathering place for rats … as well as children and parents.
Marks sought the sweep on behalf of the Rodgers Forge Community Association after association vice president Tyler Mays made a formal request for it in an email June 13.
"This is an alarming situation for the community," Mays wrote Marks.
"There are plenty of burrowing grounds in the tot lot, including a large sand box. I could only imagine the horror child and a parent would have if their child was in the sandbox and a rat were to jump out on them."
The county-owned tot lot, which is nearly two city blocks in length, is in between the alley for Dunkirk Road in the Forge and the alley for Blenheim Road in Gaywood.
The initial complaint came from a homeowner on the Dunkirk side, Mays said. She noticed what appeared to be droppings and some holes.
After moving some debris at a neighbor's house to search for nests, she and her neighbor discovered "five baby rats that scattered immediately."
In addition, her husband saw a rat recently, and she has heard reports of nesting and burrowed holes on other neighbors' properties.
The Gaywood side of the lot is not exempt from the infestation, Mays said. He was told a Blenheim resident called in an exterminator, and when the lid of a trash can was removed, and a rat weighing an estimated 3 pounds jumped out.
There also have been rat sightings elsewhere in the Forge, Mays said.
In some instances, traps have been set, along with tracing powder. However, this may only push the rats to other areas in the community, he said.
"I would hope," May said, that a sweep will "make sure that some individuals are in compliance with the Baltimore County codes, and their properties are not creating further attraction for rats — i.e., bird feeders, not cleaning after pets, leaving lids off of trash cans, etc."
He is concerned about "the potential safety hazard posed to the children in our community if this problem is not addressed as soon as possible," May said.
Marks agreed a sweep was the best move — chemicals are out of the question, considering the location, he said.
It can't be too soon for Mays.
"For the sake of the children, families and other residents, I would hope he would put as much pressure on the county as possible to make this a top priority, and use whatever resources and manpower necessary to investigate and rectify the situation," he said last week."