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Chicago Ridge is making progress in its war against rats

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Chicago Ridge officials are seeing some signs of success with their efforts over the past month to deal with a burgeoning rat population.

The first indication that the situation is improving was the announcement made at a rather uneventful Village Board meeting on Tuesday that Royal Palace banquet hall was cleared to reopen, after cleaning up a rat problem inside the building. The banquet hall at 6254 W. 111th St had been closed since early September, when an inspection found rat problems in the basement.

But on Tuesday, newly hired health inspector Peter Gianakas told the board that the facility passed the latest inspection with a 98 percent score.

“We want them to reopen as soon as possible and start making money again,” said Mayor Chuck Tokar.

The rat problem “is abating” village-wide, said Tokar afterward. In addition to the baiting done by Guardian Pest Control, he said the new policy begun in September of placing dry ice in rodent burrows is working. As an example, he pointed to the Shell gas station property at 6358 W. 111th St., where 30 burrows were found in September. But over the weeks since the dry ice has been applied, the number of burrows has dropped steadily, with only three being found this week.

Trustees Bruce Quintos and Fran Coglianese agreed that there has been improvement with the rat problem. Quintos pointed out that Coglianese came up with the idea for the dry ice, after discovering that it was being done elsewhere. She also found a local supplier for the ice, which releases carbon dioxide into the burrows, causing asphyxiation.

“I feel like the ice woman,” said Coglianese with a grin.

When the meeting was opened to public comment, a resident of the 10800 block of Oxford Avenue told the board that she was still dealing with a rat problem on her property. The woman said she has found evidence of a new burrow close to her siding, and wants to get it baited.

“I’m very scared,” she said, expressing fear that rats will get into her house.

Another resident of Marshall Avenue praised Public Works Director Stan Barwock for working with railroad officials to remove rotted railroad ties that were providing shelter for rats. She also said dog-walkers seem to be paying attention to recently installed signs warning them to pick up dog waste or face fines.

Tokar agreed that the signage is working, and approved the purchase of 25 more signs that will include details of the possible assessment of $100 fines.

Also at the meeting, the board discussed the possibility of enacting an ordinance limiting the number of video gaming cafés in the village. Oak Lawn recently enacted an ordinance capping the number at the two cafés already open. Tinley Park and New Lenox also have passed similar limiting ordinances, and village attorneys have been asked to draw up an ordinance modeled after them.

“It might be ready to be voted on at the next meeting, or possibly the one after that,” said Tokar.