Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 15, 2013

There's no denying talk of rats at planning board meeting

Niagara Gazette — Members of the Niagara Falls Planning Board did not want to talk about rats at a special informational meeting held this week to discuss the expansion of a local waste-to-energy plant. 

They heard about them anyway.

Ronda Grose, a city resident who lives next to the Covanta Niagara plant off 56th Street, insisted on speaking during Wednesday's planning board meeting about an increase in the rat population in her neighborhood. She and other neighbors attribute a recent uptick in rat sightings to waste trucks headed for the company's garbage incinerators, amongst other potential causes.

"You don't want to hear about rats, but I've got to talk about them anyway," Grose told planning board members. 

Rick Smith, the board's chairman, interrupted Grose to remind her that the purpose of the informational meeting was to discuss the company's expansion project and not the rat issue, which the city is working with the company to resolve.

That's when City Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian stepped in to ask that the planning board hear her out.

"All these people are here to talk about rats and I think we should let them talk," he said.

Loud applause erupted from a group of residents in the crowd.

Smith agreed to let Grose continue but reminded her of the three minute time limitation for comments. He also asked others speaking on the issue not to repeat points touched on by other speakers.

Grose submitted a petition to the city council office last week with 248 signatures asking the city, Covanta and the state Department of Transportation to help the neighborhood deal with what they describe as an "infestation." The petition names an ongoing road reconstruction project along Buffalo Avenue as another possible cause for the spike in vermin.

Grose said Covanta has sent an exterminator to her house to leave traps, but more needs to be done.

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