The last-minute collapse last Thursday of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s City Council bill that would have decimated the Central Park horse carriage industry was a welcome reprieve say the horse owners – but they’re sure that the mayor will take aim again.
“Oh, he’ll be back,” Sean Boyle, a driver and horse owner from Co. Leitrim, told the Irish Voice on Friday afternoon at the carriage stand on 59th Street outside Central Park while he fed his horse Chelsey.
A resident of Sunnyside who has driven a horse and carriage since 1988, Boyle said the bill – which would have moved the horses into Central Park and more than halved the numbers in operation – would have resulted in financial ruin for the owners of the four horse stables on the far West Side of Manhattan.
“There’s no way they would have been able to pay the bills with half the horses out here,” Boyle said.
“And we don’t believe that a stable would ever be set up in Central Park. That was just pie in the sky.”
The horse carriage bill was losing support by the day prior to a scheduled vote in the City Council on Friday, February 5. When the Teamsters union, acting on behalf of the drivers, withdrew their support, the bill was pulled from consideration.
NYCLASS, the animal rights group that had been leading the charge to outright ban the horse and carriage industry – and whose founders gave de Blasio’s mayoral campaign more than $1 million in funds – was furious at the City Council’s decision to withdraw the bill from consideration.
“The speaker’s decision to continue to place carriage horses in harm’s way is outrageous and wrong. Let’s be clear about what this cold-hearted delay means – horses will continue their miserable nose-to-tailpipe existence,” NYCLASS said in a statement.
The Famous Horse Drawn Carriages of Central Park, the Facebook page created by the industry, expressed delight at the turn of events – but warned that their quest to keep their business alive is far from over.
“The onerous bill collapsed under the weight of its own evil intentions -- EVERYBODY recognized that evil, and therefore in the end NOBODY was for this bill except Mayor de Blasio, two of his big-money campaign donors, and the people they managed to fool into supporting them,” the Facebook statement said.
“The mayor says he is already gearing up to try again! Our need for your support continues!”