Despite all of the press on the proposed Carriage Horse “compromise”, few in the media have delved into the concerns of those affected by the proposal who are neither in the Horse Carriage nor Pedicab industries. DNAinfo has published an article, Historic Central Park Building Shouldn’t Be Used as Horse Stable: Critics which begins to open the discussion to some of the farther reaching implications of of the Mayor’s proposal.
This week, the public learned via a fact sheet memo distributed to some Council Members according to Politico that the only building identified as under consideration for the reduced number of Carriage Horses is “The Shops” building along the 85th Street Transverse in Central Park. By following the trail, DNA notes that the Parks Department employees who use the facility rely on the metal and carpentry shop within for their skilled work–and those trades who service Central Park and other sites in Manhattan would be relocated according to the Mayor’s memo to a facility in the South Bronx. Efficiency and opportunity costs aside, the root of the issue is that this deal would privatize public parkland. Even if deemed a concession, under this legislation, there will effectively be no public process to determine “best use” of this facility that will be awarded an estimated $25 million in public funds–an estimate based on a “plan” that doesn’t yet exist.
Community Board 7 and LANDMARK WEST!’s own Kate Wood also weigh in against the plan. Ms. Wood cites the expanded stable size, carriage parking areas, feed, and hay storage, along with administrative and human needs (break rooms, changing areas, bathrooms, clerical apparatus, etc.) to point out that ‘the historic building would need to be at least doubled in size’. This is no way to treat an 1873 landmark designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wry Mould. Its also a logistical quagmire in terms of policy- how can the City Council vote on legislation that would also require approval of the Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Buildings, the Public Design Commission and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission who may not even deem the alterations “appropriate”?
The City Council is expected to vote on this matter on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016. Check back to our WATCH BLOG for updates.
UPDATE: Please read a statement about the Carriage Horses just released by the CENTRAL PARK CONSERVANCY, and follow up reporting from the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS.