Just in time for the holidays the City Council is being asked to shut down a 100-year-old New York City industry — the business of horse-drawn carriages that have for generations delighted New Yorkers and visitors, adults and children with jaunts around Central Park and a few other venues in the city. Ending all this, our Grace Rauh reported yesterday, is the idea of a council member from Queens, Anthony Avella, who wants to ban the horses and carriages, and plans to introduce a bill next month. Earlier he offered a bill to restrict the places these carriages can go, but it has been stalled in City Hall.
Well, horse pucky. Yesterday we had a letter from Ian McKeever of Shamrock Stables, writing on behalf of the Horse and Carriage Association in the city, to say the "beloved and well-cared for carriage horses are deemed in excellent health and condition" by the city's health department, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and "our own independent veterinarians." New Yorkers who stroll along Central Park South can look for themselves at these wonderful nags. They may not be Seabiscuits, but they are not unhappy, mistreated horses. They are well fed and cared for, and providing a wonderful service for their owners and customers.
Who knows how many hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors have taken to these carriages to woo or be wooed, to rekindle a romance, to charm their children, or just to see a park that is one of the greatest in any city? Why in the world would the City Council want to end this tradition? The far better course is to craft legislation to secure its survival, such as the bill being offered by another member from Queens, James Gennaro, that would permit, but not require, drivers to raise their rates for the first time since 1989. They, too, deserve a happy holiday.