January 20, 2016
By Josh Robin
Ian McKeever and other carriage drivers say there is no deal and it will remain that way until their demands are met.
That is the number of horses should remain at about 200 until a Central Park stable is built. Officials had said that all parties agreed to roughly half that number by December with even fewer when the stable is to open in 2018.
"What we put out in terms of a press release was what the administration, what this Council and with this industry — the Teamsters representing the workers," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. "That is — that is what has been presented."
The Teamsters aren't so sure, although officially the union declined comment.
"We need our horses," said Christina Hansen horse carriage driver. "We need to have our horses, we need to have our horses be protected."
Not surprisingly, there's also talk about lawsuits from horse carriage drivers, from pedicab drivers and also from people upset at turning over parkland to stables.
Pedicab advocates protested outside City Hall — to placate the politically connected carriage drivers, the deal banishes pedicabs north of 85th Street in the park, where there are few tourists.
"A horse carriage can operate, but we can't?" said Gregory Klaeboe, pedicab driver. "Why are we being singled out."
The main animal rights group NYCLASS says, it generally supports the compromise, believing it will lead to a ban.
But they want more protections against extreme temperatures.
Others say horses remain endangered until the carriage industry ends entirely.
"When the mayor promises — runs on a campaign promise — and says over and over again he is banning this industry, that's what we hold him to," said Edita Birnkrant, Friends of Animals.
And as for the park — a pricetag on the stables could run in the tens of millions of dollars — money that longtime parks advocate Tupper Thomas says may be misplaced.
"And I think that we have to really think about this use of a park space for private business —will they paying rent, is it a concession — how does that actually work?" said Tupper Thomas of New Yorkers for Parks.
Some details may emerge Friday, when the City Council holds its first hearing on it.