Liam Neeson, a vocal proponent of the New York City carriage-horse industry that Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to end during his election campaign, has suggested a compromise in an editorial.
In a New York Times Op-Ed piece on Monday the actor championed a proposal by Mindy Levine, wife of New York Yankees president Randy L. Levine. "The horse-drawn carriage business could coexist with riding stables and therapeutic riding facilities -- all within the setting of Central Park itself," Neeson said. "This would also provide access to equine-assisted therapy for children with autism and for the rehabilitation of troubled teenagers."
The star of "Non-Stop" and the "Taken" franchise, who was Oscar-nominated for his role as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg's 1993 Holocaust drama "Schindler's List," also reiterated points he has made in his efforts to retain the city tradition.
Neeson, 61, also wrote that according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll results released March 19, 64 percent of New Yorkers polled support maintaining the horse-drawn carriages.
Allie Feldman, executive director of the animal-rights group NYCLASS, told Newsday her 6-year-old organization had examined the possibility of housing horses in the park, but, "It would mean taking hundreds of acres, closing them off to the public, taking away that public space and handing it over to a private industry that everyday New Yorkers don't use. There are 200 draft horses," she said. "Between the stables and having enough space for turnout," meaning exercise and grazing, "it would take up about 200 acres." Central Park is 843 acres total.
Addressing the horses' treatment, Neeson wrote that, "Before we lose this signature element of New York's culture and history ... the least the mayor can do is come down to the stables and see how the horses are cared for."
Megan Grigorian, manager of PETA's horse-drawn carriage campaign, responded that, "Even if housed in Central Park, there's no way to effectively monitor the business to make sure the horses are being well cared for. The only humane solution is a permanent ban."
The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.