Yes, you read that headline correctly.
At last night’s Community Board 15 meeting, members were asked to weigh in on an issue of, uh, questionable importance to the district’s residents: the horse carriage industry.
A group called New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (or NYCLASS [ugh]) have legislation pending in the City Council to ban the horse carriage industry from operating within the five boroughs, including spots where they have iconic stature, like Central Park.
The group states:
The horse carriages that provide tours in and around Central Park are expensive, unsanitary and dangerous to residents and visitors alike. From congesting and damaging our streets to affecting public health and subjecting the horses to inhumane conditions, the horse carriage industry is a blight on our City.
The group and the City Council have asked the city’s community boards to take a stance on the issue.
Presented before Community Board 15 – a board that covers neighborhoods farther away from Central Park than almost any other – the issue quickly got reframed as “Should we keep an iconic industry that has been a part of New York for as long as anyone can remember? Or should we send the horses to the glue factory?”
The board overwhelmingly voted not to send horses to glue factories, and everyone had a good chuckle.
Now, those animal-rights activists among you may be enraged by the board’s flippant redefinition and resulting vote. You might ask why they didn’t consider the issue more seriously, or put in a vote that would eliminate poor health standards for horses. And maybe those activists are right.
But, in defense of the board – not that I asked them – being asked to vote on this issue is an insult to our community. Sheepshead Bay and the other neighborhoods encompassed by Community Board 15 routinely request things from the city to benefit our residents – and to no avail.
Things we care about? Zoning and development issues, aging sewer infrastructure, waterfront preservation, street maintenance, parking and commuter issues, taxes and budgetary needs.
The board is constantly pestering the city to address our concerns, but we’re rarely listened to. And we’re also seldom asked to weigh in on issues by the City Council. No one asked the community what we thought of rising parking meter rates, term limits, backdoor taxes like you see on your water bill, smoking laws, bike lanes or anything that people here actually give a damn about.
But horse carriages? In Manhattan? Come on.
To make an analogy, it’s as if the community is the homeless guy you pass every day that asks you for change to buy a sandwich. You’re the city, and you ignore him every day. But one day you stop and tell him that you can’t make up your mind on what to eat for lunch – Beluga caviar or a Kobe steak.
You – the city – are a prick, and the homeless guy – our community – should knee you in the groin.