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NYC horse-drawn carriage foes seek legislative path

In this file photo, horse-drawn carriage roll through

In this file photo, horse-drawn carriage roll through New York's Central Park. Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer, File

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Wednesday the council would still take up a proposal to ban Central Park's horse-drawn carriages, though its legislative path was still being worked out.

Her remarks came after the leader of a key council committee, formerly undecided Councilman Rafael Espinal, declared his opposition to a ban.

"Once the bill is introduced, we will discuss . . . what committee it falls under," Mark-Viverito said at City Hall. "Right now, I can't tell you, because we have to determine all the language of the bill and who has the oversight."

She was peppered with questions about the progress of the ban effort, and said only that it was "inaccurate" to say legislation has not been drafted, but she is "not at liberty" to discuss the contents. "Some action will be taken at some point," she said.

Espinal (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee, where past carriage-related bills have originated, said outside City Hall that he believes the horses are well-treated and the industry is well-regulated. He said his next task is to persuade what he estimates are 26 undecided colleagues on the 51-member council "because that's where the battle lies" to stop a ban.

No bill has been introduced yet in the council. Depending on the language, a bill could go through transportation or health committee or another committee.

Espinal stood with about two dozen carriage horse drivers. Several animal rights activists were nearby with signs accusing him of supporting animal abuse. Allie Feldman, director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets, or NYCLASS, called his stance "disgraceful." Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has called the industry inhumane, has said he wants a ban enacted legislatively.

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