Paerdegat Basin park project drives rodents into nearby homes

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The new, $15-million park around Paerdegat Basin will spruce up Jamaica Bay and provide residents with a lush, natural sanctuary for their evening strolls, but furious homeowners say the beautification project is sending a displaced army of rats, mice, racoons, and possums their way.

“There are teams of raccoons roaming the street!” said Amos Vered, a member of the Georgetown Civic Association, who bought a cat, who he calls Gohan, to scare off mice and other furry, four-legged invaders. “I have to be careful when I walk my dog.”

Other residents noticed a spike in the area’s rodent population after the city began work last year to restore 38 acres along the basin’s north and south banks.

“We have a big, big, big problem!” said Bergen Court resident Rina Berman, who said the pesky critters act as if they own the neighborhood. “They walk around like they live here, they’re like tenants.”

John McLaughlin, director of the agency’s Office of Ecological Services, told the Mill Basin Civic Association that he wasn’t aware of any damage control being done by the city, but that the feral visitors would most likely return to their neck of the woods and blend in with the refurbished wetland habitat’s “more desirable wildlife” after the project finishes up next spring.

But Vered blasted McLaughlin’s reasoning.

“That’s bulls....,” he said. “Mice are smart animals, after they’ve found food, they stick around.”

Vered added that the vermin problem residents are facing could be deep-sixed by the city as it finishes the ecology park.

“If they wanted to take care of this, they could have easily set up traps around the basin, and then released them into some other habitat,” he said. “Do you think Mayor Bloomberg would like to live here if he knew mice were running around people’s houses?”

But one pol isn’t losing sleep over the pestilence.

“The project, as a whole, is a benefit, and it’s going to continue to be a benefit,” said City Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park). “It doesn’t stink as much and the water in the basin may actually become swimmable.”

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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