Dear Friends and Fellow Park Supporters:
For 35 years, the Central Park Conservancy has restored, managed, and enhanced Central Park. In this time, we have developed an unprecedented partnership with the City of New York. We greatly value their support of our work to preserve the Park as an 843-acre oasis in our crowded city. We acknowledge the City’s right to set policy, and we applaud Mayor de Blasio’s leadership in eliminating vehicular traffic in Central Park north of 72nd Street and improving safety on the Drive.
We were only recently contacted by the City concerning their intent to relocate the carriage horse stables into Central Park. We have not been engaged in the development or evaluation of the plan. As always, our primary concern and focus is the stewardship of the Park and the public’s safe enjoyment of it. As the leading advocate for Central Park, we want you to know that we have significant concerns with the proposal.
As anyone who spends time in Central Park knows, the Park’s drives are already very busy on weekdays and even more so on weekends. The extension of the carriage horse path from its current boundary at 72nd Street further north into the Park, as well as the proposed construction of stables within the landmarked building on the 86th Street transverse road west of the Central Park Police station, would increase traffic on the Park’s already over-crowded drives, the bridle path, and transverse roads.
How the carriages would make their way to the south end of the Park is also still in question — via the West Drive or the bridle path. However, it’s clear the impact of either will be felt in several areas of the Park including the Sixth Avenue entrance where the carriages would still merge with cars; the 72nd Street transverse road; and along the bridle path — which over the past ten years has developed into the Park’s version of a “country road.” The many joggers, walkers, and dog walkers currently finding peace along the trail would be impacted by the introduction of 68 carriage horses. The surface of the path would surely have to be paved in order to accommodate the weight and constant pounding of the carriages. In addition, the Park would be giving up an important landmark building —for exclusive private use — that could support many park-based functions while serving a larger audience.
At last Friday’s City Council hearing, it was clear that there are still many unresolved issues beyond those I have laid out here. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available. We look forward to actively participating in the continuing discussion with our partners at City Hall and the Parks Commissioner. Above all, we expect that a thorough process of public review will prioritize the safety of 42 million Park users.
Douglas Blonsky, RLA, ASLA
President & CEO, Central Park Conservancy
and Central Park Administrator