Mayor de Blasio has crafted a deal to make good on one of his earliest promises in office: scaling back the city's horse carriage industry. Should it be approved by the City Council, an agreement with the Teamsters union of the horse carriage industry will reduce the number of working horses from 220 to 95, and relocate the horses' stables in Midtown West to a city-owned building in Central Park near the 85th Street Transverse.
The move to use public parkland for a private industry has raised red flags with park advocates. "This was not the way public parkland was intended to be used," the executive director of New Yorkers For Parks, Tupper Thomas, told the Times. The Central Park Conservancy, which oversees the 843-acre green lung, also vehemently opposes the plan. "It is like building a palace for a concessionaire," a founder of the conservancy, Betsy Barlow Rogers, told the Times, adding that the plan must "absolutely must be opposed."
Its estimated that the city would spend $25 million to convert the park maintenance building into a suitable home for the horses. De Blasio calls the expenditure a "worthy investment to fix up a building that we already own."
De Blasio's plan also includes confining horse carriages to Central Park and prohibiting their competition, pedicabs, from operating in the park south of 85th Street. The pedicab industry is now considering suing the city, the Times reports. "It's like orange farmers saying, 'We're going to ban tangerines now,'" the founder of the New York City Pedicab Owners Association, Gregg Zuman, told the Times. "It's unbelievable that you would forcibly eliminate your competition."
The measure to ban New York City's decades-old horse carriage industry was encouraged by some of de Blasio's wealthiest donors. The Times also points out that equine rights advocates spent nearly $1 million in attacks against De Blasio's 2013 mayoral opponent Christine Quinn. The move would also free up for new development the immensely valuable Midtown West buildings currently used to house the horses.
· Mayor de Blasio, With Carriage Horse Deal, Addresses a Pledge but Gets New Troubles [NYT]
· Developers Eye Stables Freed By Looming Carriage Horse Ban [Curbed]
· De Blasio to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages In New York City [Curbed]
· Horsing Around archives [Curbed]