In Chicago, one neighborhood’s rat problem is about to get a lot worse.
Crews are preparing to tear down an old hospital and when the wrecking ball starts swinging, the rodents living in and underneath the aging structure will scurry.
The city and the developer are setting poison baits and traps to help control the problem, but some residents are turning to one of the rats’ worst enemies instead — cats.
Construction On Old Buildings Worsens Rat Problem
Chicago’s upscale Lincoln Park neighborhood is known for its fine bars and restaurants, trendy clothiers and elegant row houses mixed with luxurious town houses and yuppie apartment buildings.
Like many densely populated urban neighborhoods, Lincoln Park also has rats. A lot of rats.
“They totally freak me out,” says Courtney Bledsoe, as she sees a rat dart across the street while picking up her son at a Lincoln Park preschool.
“Every night when I walk down the sidewalk, I see rats,” says 36-year-old Kelly McGee, who has come to accept this aspect of city living. “It freaks out my sister. She screams when she sees them but they don’t bother me so much. It’s an urban area; I don’t know what else we can expect.”
McGee can expect the rat problem to get a lot worse. She lives just down the block from the old Children’s Memorial Hospital, which is about to be torn down as part of a massive redevelopment project.
“Construction all over the city often disturbs rodents who are living underground,” says Lincoln Park’s City Council representative, Alderman Michele Smith. In anticipation of the redevelopment of the century-old hospital, Smith wrote what she says is the most stringent anti-rat development ordinance in the country.
“Before excavation begins and throughout excavation and construction, every developer has to do active rodent abatement on site,” Smith says.