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To the editor:
I grew up in the city when there were still many working horses. The “old clothes” wagons and the “fresh vegetable” wagons were still around and came up along University Avenue in Highbridge. We also had riding stables and horses along Pelham Parkway in the Bronx and still more out in Flatbush in Brooklyn.
These horses, after World War II, were a tiny remnant of the huge herds that had served New York needs throughout our pre automobile era, but I liked them. All us kids did.
Where did all the horses go when they were no longer needed? They went where most of the trolley cars went when buses came in. They were destroyed.
Now we have this Coalition for NYC Animals deeply concerned on behalf of the Central Park Carriage horses. They suggest replacing the horses with electric vehicles.
The drivers, we are told, will have a chance to apply for the job of driving three mile an hour electric vehicles (golf carts or huge ornate make-believe 1890 replica automobiles, we are not told.)
Who will want to pay the rates that tourists and honeymooners now pay for a ride in a horse carriage? We are not told. We are, however, assured that the drivers will receive a salary equivalent to the “prevailing rate” set by the city comptroller’s office.
Wait a minute … did I not just read an excellent series in The Chief all about a “prevailing rate” set by the comptroller’s office (The Chief, Sept. 9)? That salary “rate” was so low that it came close to killing the Staten Island Ferry.
What is the “prevailing rate” for golf cart drivers? Not an awful lot, I suspect.
And where will the horses go? Oh, I am sure we will be told how someone will pay for the horses to be kindly treated until their natural death, but once they are earning no money, who is offering to pay for their retirement pastures, feed and care?
Perhaps the real estate interests that Ron Isaac mentioned will come forward with a golden parachute for the horses and the drivers (The Chief, Sept. 23). Or not. If they do, the horses will no longer have to put up with “people, jostling and pushing …by cyclists, skate boarders, scooters, and pedicabs.” Of course, if we go to Central Park ourselves, we will still have to deal with all that, but at least, the horses will not.
Meanwhile the horses will be gone, and New York will be all the worse for it. I loved these horses. I have always wanted the law to insure wonderful, loving treatment for them. Their enemies want them gone, gone, gone.
Bob Croghan is the chair of the Organization of Staff Analysts
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