As the weather improves, Chicago Ridge officials are tackling the problem of rats, a frequent topic of discussion and complaints in the village.
Trustee William McFarland said he was taking the lead on the issue, because he has a strong aversion to the rodents.
“I’ll admit it. I hate them and I’m scared of them. I just don’t want to see them around,” he said at the April 19 village board meeting.
Several months ago, the village sent brochures to residences listing various ways that residents could do to lessen the chances of rats taking up residence in the village. But several residents took issue with the wording, complaining at a village board meeting that the village seemed to be making residents responsible for solving the problem.
But village trustees and Mayor Chuck Tokar said that while the village is responsible for baiting, there are ways residents can keep the problem to a minimum.
McFarland said he would be recommending at the May 3 meeting that the board approve an agreement with Guardian Pest Control, which is the same service used by Oak Lawn.
“We’re currently baiting 45 locations, and Guardian will bait the 45 traps twice a week, for $1,600 per month,” he said.
He said the village has been paying $9,000 for a less intensive baiting program.
“Baiting only takes care of 25 percent of the problem,” said McFarland, stressing the importance of removing food sources by cleaning up dog waste and keeping garbage bins covered.
Mayor Charles Tokar said that he has spoken to residents in his own block when he has seen their garbage containers open, and code enforcement officers have issued warnings.
“I’ve put their garbage bags in my container when I see them sitting outside the containers,” he said.
“We know that sometimes the wind blows the lids off, but just cover them when you see that,” said McFarland, adding that uncovered or overflowing dumpsters outside commercial or multi-unit buildings are a big issue.
“I’m going to be recommending increasing fees for dumpster violations,” he said.
“It is not about the money. We would rather that the problem be fixed and no one was fined,” McFarland said, suggesting that hikes are needed because some companies currently see fines as the cost of doing business.
McFarland said that to limit the problem of rats leaving disturbed construction sites and moving into residential areas, developers must follow EPA requirements mandating that bait boxes be placed around the perimeter of such sites.
“Otherwise, it is an EPA violation,” he said.