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As rats continue to plague Lancaster, town continues to ponder totes

Rats continue to plague neighborhoods in the village and town of Lancaster.

Newell Avenue neighbors see them.

People in the Central Avenue business district have seen them.

And residents in other areas of the village and town have seen them.

And that is why Lancaster town leaders have been talking for some time about using garbage and recycling totes to attack the growing rat problem.

But town leaders are not yet willing to commit to totes.

“There may be a consideration for totes,” Supervisor Johanna M. Coleman said in response to a resident’s complaint Tuesday night.

“I’m not ruling out totes, and I’m not ruling in totes,” Coleman said.

Paul Nosbisch Jr. complained to the board about the rats, urging the town to get the totes, which several other local communities have adopted in recent years with success.

“I have seen rats that I thought were cats crossing the road,” he said. “I can’t believe the size of the rats.”

Without committing to the totes, Coleman said she recognized the problem.

“The rats keep moving,” Coleman said. “I agree that something needs to be done.”

The town’s garbage and recycling contract with Waste Management runs through January 2019, so the town has some time to weigh its options.

Coleman said a strong split exists in the community between those who are adamant about getting totes versus others equally adamant in their opposition. The town took over garbage collection in the village in 1988.

Councilman Ronald Ruffino Sr. said the main opposition to totes has been over the expense. The cost of the tote and the resulting additional charge on garbage fees could be at least another $45.

“That’s a significant increase. But the safety of the public is important, too,” Coleman said. “So what price do you put on the cost of public safety?”

Coleman and other town officials noted that Waste Management has retooled trucks to handle picking up totes and disposing of the waste in their trucks.

“Now, they do it in many municipalities,” Coleman said, adding that she has met with Waste Management officials since taking office in January.

Now that Waste Management’s trucks are retrofitted to handle the large totes, there may be a different public response than there was years ago, Ruffino said.

The town’s contract doesn’t expire for another three years, but Coleman said now is the time to begin preparing the bid process and considering such items.

Depew officials recently talked about possibly lending some of their municipality’s totes to the Central Avenue area in downtown Lancaster to see if that would have an effect, Councilman Matthew Walter said.

Coleman said that the biggest problem is dog feces left in yards, which draws rodents. And some residents overload garbage containers with garage overflowing and lids not closed tightly, she said.

“That won’t help the problem, either,” Coleman said.

Walter said he believes that since Depew began using totes a couple of years ago, the rats have migrated to other areas, to Lancaster.