In a swift kick to Staten Island, the “Borough of Parks,” the city Parks Department has said nay to an offer from the Staten Island Zoo aimed at keeping horse-mounted patrols here, according to the Staten Island Advance.
And in a further stomping of the borough, the agency pulled a Halloween trick and removed the horses yesterday, a day ahead of schedule.
Zoo Executive Director Ken Mitchell said that the Zoo offered to absorb the $900 labor costs per month of housing the horses at the West Brighton zoo.
That would have left Parks responsible for $1,100 a month in hay, bedding and grain costs. That’s down from the $2,000 the agency currently pays to house the horses here.
“They didn’t accept it,” Mitchell told the Advance.
He said that Parks came in “unannounced” yesterday and removed the horses, which were supposed to stay until today.
“We’re disappointed thatwe weren’t able to reach some type of compromise,” said Mitchell. “We’re going to greatly miss having those horses at the Zoo.”
And the borough’s lost horses could end up being Central Park’s gain.
Two of the agency’s horses have been stabled at the Zoo, while two others are housed in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
A source said the horses being removed from the Island will now be housed at Van Cortlandt, while the Bronx horses are moved to Central Park to replace horses that have been retired.
“I don’t know why our horses weren’t good enough to go to Central Park,” the source said. Parks did not comment after repeated requests from the Advance.
The city has said it expects to save $24,000 a year by not having the horses boarded at the Zoo.
City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn) lobbied Parks to take the Zoo’s deal.
“It’s hard to believe that it comes down to dollars and cents when the Zoo made such a good-faith offer,” he said. “But that’s Parks. It’s always their agenda, not the Island’s. Their default answer is ‘no.’”
The Island, famed for having more parkland, at 7,200 acres, than any other borough, will continue to be patrolled by Parks Enforcement Patrol officers, the agency has said.
Mounted patrols are highly visible, and educate the public on the rules and regulations in the city’s parks. They have been fixtures on the Island for 30 years.
With the loss of the two horses and accompanying patrol officers, there will be just six enforcement officers to patrol all of the Island’s parkland.
The NYPD also patrols the borough’s parks.
Parks has said the department would do its best to “maintain” the current level of patrol officers and replace the mounted patrol with officers on foot in light of budget constraints.