Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to end the horse-carriage industry on his first day in office, yet two years later, the hooves are still pounding the pavement. But the mayor came up with what he sees as a compromise, a vote on which is scheduled for this Friday. The New York Times reports that while there seems to be enough votes for it to pass, opposition to the bill remains.
The bill would restrict the horse-carriages to Central Park and cut their number from 220 down to 95 (with only 75 allowed to operate at one time). It would also require the construction (by 2018) of a stable and carriage house along the 85th Street transverse and ban pedicabs from operating in the park below 85th Street.
The Teamsters, the Times says, are representing the horse-carriage drivers and support the bill, but the drivers themselves do not. "This is a ban bill wrapped up in clothing because we will not be able to survive until the stables are opened," Ian McKeever, a driver, told the Times.
Political support is less solid than it was, with some council members now uncertain about the bill. Brooklyn Democrat David Greenfield called it a "lose-lose" and some have suggested delaying the vote. Further complicating matters is a provision that would allow changes to the bill on the day of the vote, which could mean a rarely seen floor debate.
Meanwhile, many celebrities are backing the bill. The New York Daily News lists actresses Edie Falco, Gillian Anderson, Debi Mazar, and Kathy Najimy as well as hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons among them. Liam Neeson has long been a supporter of the horse-carriage industry, and he opposed de Blasio's initial proposal for an outright ban. Continuing on the list of those who don't get a vote in the matter is Central Park-bordering Community Board 5, which opposes the bill.
· Opposition to de Blasio's Horse Plan Builds as Council Vote Nears [NYT]
· City Council Stalls Vote on De Blasio's Horse Carriage Proposal [Curbed]
· Blacksmith Larry Hagberg Keeps Forging Away in a Central Park Workshop [UC]
· Celebrities urge City Council to approve Central Park horse carriage plan [NYDN]
· All Horse Carriage Industry coverage [Curbed]