By Mike Kruzman /

With a downtown pest problem believed to be under control, Brighton City Council is pursuing options to make sure it stays that way.

As reported at Thursday night’s study session, city staff earlier this year had seen evidence of a rat population downtown, including damage done to a large tree’s root system near the Mill Pond, with the tree then being removed based on an arborist’s recommendation. There was also evidence of rats getting into trash cans in the area.

Superintendent of Streets Daren Collins said they were unsure how they got there, as they could have been unknowingly brought in by a delivery truck, accidentally brought in by a farmer’s market vendor, were domesticated rats that someone dropped off, or by some other means.

Mitigation efforts were in full swing by May and June with a pest management system in effect that saw poison and ammonia sprays being used at trash receptacles, and additional dumpster enclosure monitoring being done by staff. Additional power washing of trash cans is also taking place. As a result, there has been significantly decreased activity downtown, as further backed up by the fact that hot summer temperature hasn’t led to an increase in population.

Collins said there is currently no need for further pest control treatment applications, but they will continue to monitor and spot treat if needed.

Now the city is moving towards making sure this problem doesn’t return in the future. DPS Director Marcel Goch said that one thing they can do is put a code on city dumpsters and compactors so that they know who is using them. Cameras on the Hyne Street dumpster and the one behind Stout would also give them more definitive proof against violators. Pictures were shown of restaurant garbage, including raw poultry, carelessly dumped on the grounds around the dumpsters. Goch and Collins also suggested a fee structure for violations that, as an example, started with a warning, progressed into fines, and then ended at the termination of dumpster rights after so many violations.

Mayor Shawn Pipoly was in support, and suggested that if they are going to hit violators with a fine, that they “hit ‘em hard.” He said that if a business gets hits with a $500 fine for dumping chicken on the ground, then they deserve it and will maybe take training their staff more seriously.

Council Member Jim Bohn was in favor of going a step further with a “zero tolerance” policy that gave violators one warning and then terminated their rights on a second offense.

City manager Nate Geinzer said he appreciates Council’s support to get tougher on this and will work on something to bring back for consideration at a future meeting.