A booming rat population is causing consternation in Chicago Ridge.
Mayor Charles Tokar said at the Village Board meeting on Tuesday that the issue will be addressed at a town hall meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Village Hall, 10455 S. Ridgeland Ave.
Representatives of Guardian Pest Control will be there to talk about what the company is doing to control the rodent population, and Tokar is asking every restaurant in the village to send a representative to the meeting. He said poorly maintained restaurant dumpsters provide a ready food source for the rats.
The mayor also urged residents to clean up dog waste immediately, and stop leaving food outside for birds and other animals because it all attracts rats.
“I was out over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday night, looking at hot spots (for rodents). There is definitely a problem in certain areas of the village,” the mayor said.
The mayor said one such hotspot is the alley behind the Pepe’s restaurant at 6336 W. 111th St.
“The restaurant is clean inside, but there was a hole in the garbage dumpster that rats were going in and out of. It was like a smorgasbord,” he said.
“I even brought my BB gun with me, but it didn’t work,” he said with a grin.
Tokar said that the problem was so bad at the nearby Royal Palace banquet hall, 6254 W. 111th St., that he shut the business down until the problems can be rectified. In that case, he said there were rodent problems in the basement of the business as well as outside.
The mayor also cited the condition of wooden dumpster enclosures behind multi-unit residential buildings on Pleasant Boulevard for criticism.
“The enclosures are being used as a shield, so you don’t see what is being dumped back there,” he said, explaining that besides bags of garbage outside the dumpsters, he also said broken down furniture and other trash is being hidden in the enclosures. Together, he said, rats are being provided with food and shelter.
“It is a disgusting mess back there, and I am declaring it a public nuisance,” he said.
The mayor said he will be sending letters to the owners of the buildings, informing them that if the issues are not addressed within seven days, the village will bill them for doing the clean-up.
After Tokar said all the wooden dumpster enclosures should be replaced by chain-link fences, so they can be seen through, the board asked Village Attorney Burt Odelson to draw up an ordinance requiring that change before the next meeting on Sept. 20.
Trustee Bruce Quintos said that overflowing dumpsters on garbage pick-up day are a major problem.
“Either they need bigger dumpsters, or more frequent pick-ups,” he said.
Coincidentally, the board also approved the hiring of four part-time rental/residential association inspectors during the meeting, and Quintos said they will be able to address some of those types of problems.
The role of the RRAs, as they are called, will be to inspect annual inspections of rental properties and multi-unit dwellings to make sure that village codes are being followed.
“I’m looking forward to an enlightening town hall meeting,” said Tokar. “We can’t just say it is someone else’s problem. We all have to play our part,” he said.