Tight Fit. Proposed New Carriage Horse Industry Home. Under the Mayor’s plan the city would give the Park’s Department’s 86th Street Shops building - located along the heavilty trafficked 86th Street Transverse Road - to the carriage horse industry. The building is used by Park’s Department trade workers. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on Images to enlarge.
By Geoffrey Croft
Mayor De Blasio is proposing handing over a Parks Department building in Central Park used by city workers to the commercial horse stable industry, NYC Park Advocates has learned.
The plan would permanently provide a home for seventy-five horses in Central Park along the 86th Street Transverse near the police Pct.
The tax payers are expected to pay for the new multi-million dollar facility under the Mayor’s plan.
City engineers have visited the more than century-old former stable building several times according to city sources.
Unlike other commercial businesses which operate on public park land this one is expected to bypass the competitive bidding process normally required to secure public park land for private commercial uses.
Outstanding questions include whether or not the carriage industry would be required to pay the city rent.
The move would displace approximately forty park workers mostly in the trades - including electricians, carpenters, plumbers, blacksmiths, and steamfitters.
The horses would to go and from work into the heavily trafficked 86th Street Transverse Road. The not-so-ideal location would necessitate the installation of a railroad style crossing gate and flashing warning lights system to protect the horses from traffic according to several sources.
The stables would be located nearly a mile and a half away from the horse stands on 59th Street.
The De Blasio administration is scrambling to finalize a bill which would authorize the land giveaway to the private business which could come as early as Friday according to published reports.
Horse carriages are rarely seen working north of 72nd Street in the park and several park officials were unsure whether or not there is a ban that prohibits the industry from working in the northern areas of the park and if they would be allowed to moving forward under the new bill.
A worker repairs a piece of equipment in the Park’s Department’s 86th Street Shops building.
The location is problematic according to a Parks Department equestrian expert familiar with the area who cited several issues including traffic and the size of the building as issues.
"It’s going to be dangerous for the horses to be pulling out on the transverse unless you really engineer something that is safe and completely stops traffic," the worker said.
Once the carriages cross the transverse they are expected to use the park’s existing bridal paths according to city sources.
“It’s not ideal for those carriages to be on the bridal path it’s too bumpy. The bridle path is for saddle horses," the equestrian source stated.
Several park employees familiar with the city's plan also questioned whether the site could accommodate the proposed use.
"If you are going to have a facility that is healthy for the horses you need a lot of space - box stalls which allow horses to turn around as well as lay down, you need an area for the horses to turn out, grooming areas, and a place to store the carriages, “ the park worker said.
“You also need food storage areas, refrigerators for medicines, it's a lot of stuff. Also large trucks are going to delivering hay. Traffic is going to be a nightmare. Remember the carriage rider will be controlling the traffic signals every time they leave or come back in. They will be controlling that,” the worker continued.
The Park’s Department’s 86th Street Shops building.
Parks Department trade employees who work in the building are an integral part of the city’s maintenance workforce.
“It’ll be a disaster,” said a parks trade worker speaking on the condition they not be identified for fear of reprisal.
“Efficiency will out the window. Where are they going to put us? We’ll be traveling all over the place. This building is centrally located. The cost to the city for us to traveling from all over will be enormous. The city doesn’t care about that.”
Workers also sited the physical cost of moving the various trades to other areas.
"That’s not going to be cheap.”
Another worker compared another century-old Calvert Vaux designed building the city recently renovated in the park.
“It could be another Tavern on the Green,” the city worker said comparing the tax payer funded debacle that wound up costing more than double the original estimate.
“This building needs a lot of work, it’s old. We work here so they can get away with it but they can’t if other people are going to be in here.”
None of the workers spoken to this morning at the shop knew about the plan.
"Why would they tell us, we would be the last to know.”
The Blacksmith shop dates back more than a century and includes one the city’s last remaining forges. (below)
(Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on Images to enlarge.
The Central Park Conservancy which manages the park also had its eye on the building for its operations. They had proposed converting the building into much needed office space to serve as its new headquarters.
City Hall, horse carriage operators butt heads over details in bill, delaying hearing
New York Daily News - January 14, 2016 - By Jennifer Fermino