2006-07-28 / Community

Sanders, Health Department Tackle Mosquito Problem

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

Sanders talks about the mosquito problem in the area as representatives of the DOH look on.Sanders talks about the mosquito problem in the area as representatives of the DOH look on.

The Department of Health (DOH) is working to keep mosquitoes away from Rockaway residents as much as possible this summer by performing at least four aerial larvicidings and four ground sprayings, an official of the agency told Rockaway residents this week. In addition, Councilman James Sanders Jr. announced that he has obtained $100,000 toward the eradication of mosquitoes in Rockaway.

Those announcements were made at a town hall meeting hosted by Sanders Monday evening at the Macedonia Baptist Church in Arverne. Joining him were DOH representatives Ed Butts and his colleague John Johnston.

"Last Friday we larvicided by helicopter to kill mosquitoes before they become adults," said Butts, of the DOH's Pest Control division. "We do a lot of surveillance and ground larviciding in Edgemere Park and Dubois Point."

Butts continued by saying "We are committed to two more larvicidings by helicopter and two nuisance sprayings [in August and September]." The DOH has already done two aerial and two ground attacks on mosquitoes in the Rockaways.

Ed Butts, of the DOH Pest Control division, explains what the agency is doing to decrease the mosquito population in the Rockaways.Ed Butts, of the DOH Pest Control division, explains what the agency is doing to decrease the mosquito population in the Rockaways. "We know we in Rockaway are going to get hit hard by mosquitoes," said Sanders. "Last year we had a great year compared to other years...we put in a lot of money in dealing with the issue of mosquitoes."

Although he announced securing $100,000 for this year's fight, Sanders explained there was less money earmarked for the problem than in 2005.

In 2004, the DOH did two ground sprayings. Last year "we did six to eight," said Butts. "We know every year we have this program, we have to be proactive," Sanders told those attending the meeting.

Sanders asked the DOH to help in his suggestion to "Creating a shield of mosquito magnets around the bay." His idea was shot done by the Office of Management and Budget who said, "It was not a capital request" because individuals would be paying half for the devices.

Rosemary Shepard, of Beach 13 Street, expresses her concerns about a mosquito problem near her home.Rosemary Shepard, of Beach 13 Street, expresses her concerns about a mosquito problem near her home. Andrew Jackson and Rosemary Shepard of Beach 13 Street asked Sanders and the DOH to assist them in a mosquito-breeding problem.

Before speaking with one of Sanders' staff members, Jackson - who lives at 14-10 New Haven - said near his building are "are weeds, grass... we have called 311, sanitation...we plea for you to step in."

Marlen Waaijer, of Beach 37 Street, believes that one of the things that attract mosquitoes is trash.

"If we could teach people not to throw bags [from snacks around]...a little bag of water is more of a mosquito magnet," said Waaijer.

The use of a helicopter enables the DOH to cover more area than by ground. From the air, 32 acres of Dubois Point and Edgemere Park were covered, as opposed to three to five acres if it is done by ground.

Other organizations are joining the fight against Rockaway's mosquito population.

Brian Aucoin, the program director for the GreenApple Corps of the Parks Department said, "We have done two...cleanups at Dubois Point and collected 150 cubic yards of debris."

Aucoin announced a cleanup was scheduled for Saturday September 30 and volunteers were needed. He can be contacted at 212 360-2749.

Sanders also announced that the Army Corp of Engineers would soon be releasing a study on Dubois Point. The study is expected to conclude it will take $15 million to solve the mosquito problem with a mix of federal and city monies.

"We need to start thinking of a permanent solution to the problem," said Sanders. "[It's a] problem the Army Corp needs to resolve. Everyone should call and say they are waiting for the Dubois Point study."

Call 311, Sanders or your local representative's office if you are aware of a mosquito problem. The combination of complaints and the amount of mosquitoes the DOH finds in traps determines when it is time to spray Butts told the crowd.

To report dead birds, call 311 or go online at nyc.gov/health/wnv. Dead birds, especially crows and blue jays can carry the West Nile virus.

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