NEW YORK – What may be the cheapest rooms in Manhattan are made especially for squirrels.
A self-appointed protector of squirrels has paid to have soft-pine boxes made for the critters and had them placed in trees at City Hall Park.
Mark Garvin said he paid a "couple hundred dollars" to have each of the boxes made. The Parks Department installed three at the park.
Garvin, a biologist, said he and his wife appointed themselves caretakers of about 60 or so squirrels at the park after 9/11.
"That whole park was coated in white dust," he said. "The animals were dying over there, so that's when we really got determined."
The Parks Department also maintains refuges for squirrels at other city parks, as well as shelters for animals the agency deems important because they feed on pests.
Citywide Parks Ranger Capt. Richard Simon said squirrels have many uses.
"Old people like to feed them and the tourists like to see them," he said. "They're just very friendly, and they're cute."