Rat Panic in Verdi Square

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Rat Panic in Verdi Square




The rat problem in the Upper West Side's Verdi Square, once called Needle Park, has gotten so bad that recently the Parks Dept. called for back-up. "We have sent an extra staff person there in the early morning and later in the day," said Cristina DeLuca, a spokeswoman from the Parks Dept. "The park is now being cleaned as much as three times a day to address the rodent issues." Still, neighborhood residents say the rats are part of their routine. "If you clap your hands at night they all jump out of the bushes," said Rob Hafferman, who lives nearby. It turns out, the rodents have not gone undocumented.

In 1987 Verdi Square, then popularly called Needle Park, was a hang-out for drug dealers (1971's "The Panic in Needle Park" stars a young Al Pacino as a scag-hustling junkie) and homeless people. Also rats. That year the Times wrote "scattered pigeon food, such as bread crumbs and corn, has also attracted rats, and notices of rat poison placed by the Parks Department are posted on the square's trees."

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