De Blasio on Cusp of Possible Horse Carriage Deal

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York City officials are close to a deal that would save Central Park’s horse-drawn carriages from a threatened ban.

When he was elected two years ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to end the popular carriage rides through the park on “day one” of his administration, calling it inhumane to keep horses in loud, car-clogged Manhattan.

But now his administration is negotiating a compromise deal with a union representing many carriage drivers that would keep the horses trotting.

As many as two-thirds of the approximately 200 horses now working in the park would be permanently retired from the carriage fleet, but the approximately 75 that remain would get a permanent home, a new stable built within Central Park itself. The horses currently live on four privately owned stables on the West Side.

The move to the park would address one complaint from animal rights activists, which was that the horses were in danger every time they made their daily walks from their staging area at the park partway across town to the urban stables where they sleep at night.

Drivers had a mixed reaction.

“Being forced to move to Central Park would be a great idea — if it would be all the horses!” said driver Ian McKeever, one of about 160 full-time drivers. Otherwise, “that’s a lot of work for about 70 horses.”