Yes, There Is a Rat Problem on Public Square. Yes, Officials Are Aware of and Working on It

As if the jersey barriers weren't bad enough

click to enlarge Efforts to curtail the problem haven't exactly done the trick so far - Erik Drost/FlickrCC
Erik Drost/FlickrCC
Efforts to curtail the problem haven't exactly done the trick so far

It may feel like they're more inconspicuous and camera-shy here than in the subways of New York, for example, but rats most definitely roam the streets and subterranean world of Cleveland.

But as some Clevelanders have noticed, the rodents have this year been more prevalent, and far more visible, in and around Public Square.

(Real ones, not the giant inflatable versions deployed recently by Teamsters Local 507 and Laborers Union 860 in a recent demonstration over stalled negotiations between City Hall and some 400 city workers.)

The cause?

The new and massive Sherwin-Williams HQ project next door, which is excavating and disturbing earth unmoved for decades.

"There has been an increase in recent rodent activity in the downtown area due to major construction," Rick Grospitch, GM of the Group Plan Commission, the non-profit that manages Public Square, told Scene. "This increase is common when construction disrupts centuries-old underground locations and replaces drainage lines. The City is able to control the population under normal circumstances, but these disruptions relocate the problem as the rodents seek a new hibernation location.

"The City Health Department has been working diligently to eliminate the problem over the last few months, but it is apparent that there continues to be an issue," he said. "We continue to communicate directly with the Commissioner of Public Health so they may increase their efforts to remediate and eliminate this issue within the Square."

The Cleveland Department of Public Health is indeed on the case, though results, given the scope of the problem, are a work in progress.

"We are working with the Cleveland Group Plan on the issue," a CDPH spokesperson told Scene, noting that Sherwin's Big Dig is indeed the suspected culprit.

Work now includes baiting, identifying areas where the rats are living, and eliminating food sources such as litter.
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