Union County News

Fanwood Officials Address Rat Problem Near Municipal Lot Downtown

Dumpsters in the Fanwood municipal lot are clearly marked to discourage individuals from dumping illegally. Fanwood police are regularly monitoring the town's surveillance videos. Credits: John Mooney
Digging at the site of the future Station Square has upset the rats' homes. Credits: John Mooney
Construction at the Ponzio Tract on Second St. Credits: John Mooney
Residents of Fanwood Crossing II have reported seeing rats in the Fanwood municipal parking lot. Credits: John Mooney

FANWOOD, NJ — Borough officials, including Police Chief Richard Trigo, DPW Director Clint Dicksen, Councilman Tom Kranz and Borough Administrator Eleanor McGovern met with representatives of local businesses that use the dumpsters in the Fanwood municipal parking lot on Tuesday to discuss rodent sightings in the area.

Kranz has been in the forefront in the investigation of the increased visibility of rodents by tenants of Fanwood Crossing. The councilman has monitored the situation and determined several causes for the rat problem: digging at the Station Square location (corner of La Grande Avenue and Second Street) and the Ponzio Tract (Second Street) that has upset the grounds where the rodents nested, overflows of garbage from the businesses that legally use the dumpsters, and illegal dumping.

"What we've had has been a perfect storm for rat sightings," Kranz said. "Rats have been around for centuries. We have lots of digging near the Fanwood municipal parking lot and on South Avenue. This has upset their homes, and they've become more visible."

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Since receiving complaints from nearby residents, the following efforts have been undertaken to address the rodent problem:

  • The dumpster area was cleaned out by workers from the local businesses.
  • Business owners have increased garbage collections from two to three times per week at their own expense. They have also been instructed to fold boxes better so that the dumpsters can hold more. 
  • The Health Department has baited the area for rats, and six rat traps have been placed by the maintenance people from Fanwood Crossing II.
  • Surveillance cameras have been re-aimed to make sure they are getting clear video of the dumpster area. The video feed is being monitored by the Fanwood police.

"The cameras now give a clear picture of who is illegally dumping in the area, including their vehicles and license plates," Trigo said. "Anyone engaging in illegal dumping will be prosecuted."

Four of the food establishments that share the dumpsters — Fanwood Bagel, The Fanwood Grille, Rocko's Ice Cream and Nick's Pizza — had representatives at the meeting held at the Carriage House. Mara's Cafe and the Rice Inn did not have representatives present at the meeting.

"We are doing our part to try to keep the area cleaner by setting up additional weekly collections," said Paul Watterson, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Fanwood Grille and Nick's Pizza. "The illegal dumping is a problem. If we lock the gates, people will toss bags of garbage over the fence and hope that they go in. They've thrown in mattresses that cover the openings of the dumpsters and leads to the garbage piling up."

Attendees of the Carriage House meeting agreed that a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the problem is what has the most potential. 

Editor's Note: TAPintoSPF publisher John Mooney is an owner of The Fanwood Grille (34 South Martine).

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