LINCOLN PARK — If you can't beat 'em, pour concrete over 'em.
That's the attitude of city officials as they cope with a stubborn area that has provided "a nest for rodents" at Clark Street and Belden Avenue.
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) announced in her most recent newsletter to constituents that the parkway in front of the 7-Eleven at the southwest corner of the intersection would be covered in concrete and converted to a widened sidewalk because it had become "a nest for rodents."
"This particular infestation has been around for a while," Smith said Wednesday. "We tried everything that we could think of, and the only thing left was to just eliminate that, make that into just sidewalk.
"After you've tried everything, that's the best way to safeguard the public," she added.
Smith touted in her newsletter that she sponsored a new city ordinance two years ago that called on developers to include rat abatement as part of any construction, so that rats wouldn't scatter to surrounding areas as buildings were razed.
She said similarly, but on a smaller scale, city crews would do the same.
"We try to poison them beforehand," she said. "That area's been baited more times than I can count."
Smith also called on area residents to pick up after their dogs, and to keep trash and recycling bins closed to shut off food sources for rats. To that end, she said, the 43rd Ward has replaced more than 200 black trash bins and almost 200 blue recycling bins this year, with more requested.
"I will say this: It's an area in which a lot of people don't pick up after their dogs," Smith said of Clark and Belden. "And there is a lot of heavy usage of that alley for trash."
Smith said ward rat complaints had fallen steadily in the last five years since peaking at 1,648 in 2012, but were once again on the rise as the city suffers an increase in rat complaints, with more than 39,000 reported citywide, up 30 percent from a year ago.
According to Smith, the Chicago Department of Transportation will handle the sidewalk next month.