De Blasio made elimination of the horse and carriage industry a cornerstone of his first campaign for mayor in 2013.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a long time opponent of the Central Park horse and carriage industry, announced a plan last Thursday that would remove the horses from their highly visible spots on Central Park South and relocate them to five designated areas inside the park.
De Blasio made elimination of the horse and carriage industry a cornerstone of his first campaign for mayor in 2013, saying he’d move to ban the horses on “day one” of his administration, but two prior attempts to gut the industry were met with strong disapproval from the public and were unable to muster enough votes in the New York City Council.
This time around, however, City Council approval will not be needed as the mayor can move the horses into the park by executive order. His administration has scheduled a hearing on the matter for October 3 and is currently accepting comments from the public.
The city’s Department of Transportation has proposed five new designated pickup areas for horse and carriage rides, near park entrances on Central Park West and Fifth Avenue. A spokesperson for the industry told The Wall Street Journal that drivers were “blindsided” by the mayor’s latest move.
“We have not been contacted by the mayor’s office or anybody that was involved with it, nor were we asked for input.,” said Steve Malone, the son of an Irish immigrant who is a spokesperson for the Horse and Carriage Association.
De Blasio defended the impending move as being in the best interest of the horses. “Central Park South right now, you see it all the time, the horses in close proximity to traffic, it is a location that we believe could be used much more effectively in terms of mass transit, in terms of Vision Zero initiatives,” he said.
The Mayor's plan to relocate the NYC carriage horse boarding zones deep into Central Park will decimate the carriage horse business and threaten the health and welfare of hundreds of horses. Let you City Council member know. https://t.co/ubVIvmSuKe— Craig Sheldon (@crgshldn) September 2, 2018
The animal rights group NYCLASS, a financial supporter of de Blasio’s campaigns, applauded the mayor’s initiative.
“Forcing horses out among traffic—on hot pavement—with cars and buses speeding by never made sense, and there’s no reason the most progressive city in the world should tolerate it for a single day longer,” a statement from the group said.
The New York Daily News, a champion of the horse and carriage industry, said that if de Blasio makes good on his pledge, the move will spell the beginning of the end of the horses who work Central Park.
BREAKING NEWS: NYCLASS statement on City announcement of NYC carriage horse hackline being moved off chaotic Central Park South and into Central Park. @AielloTV @kathynajimy @thelittleidiot https://t.co/wUpNvk6K2P pic.twitter.com/wwZZkVX8PS— NYCLASS (@nyclass) August 30, 2018
“For this industry, visibility is oxygen. Replacement locations would likely starve the carriages of the steady flow of customers, a majority of whom now are walk-up fares,” a Saturday editorial said.
“And what’s even the theoretical benefit for the horses, whose treatment already rivals that of any Westminster dog, and who’d still be traveling back and forth from their stables and still be permitted to travel on city streets?”
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