Is Rusty the reason the Pelham Parkway stables are still standing?
Rumors have emerged on Facebook that recent efforts to save Rusty, a beloved community horse trapped inside the run down, dilapidated and condemned Pelham Parkway stables, are part of a conspiracy between elected officials and developers to speed up the process of having the stables knocked down for further housing development.
Last week, several members of the Pelham Parkway community took to Facebook questioning the motives of Senator Jeff Klein’s effort to have Rusty removed from the stable and placed in a better home. Senator Klein has vehemently refuted the charges on Facebook and has detailed his objections to them. Other unnamed “elected officials” were also part of the charges Klein says are false.
Egidio Sementilli, a local community activist and perennial candidate for office, who most recently ran against Assemblyman Michael Benedetto in the Thursday, September 13 Democratic primary in the 82nd Assembly District, posted on Facebook, “If Rusty goes the project will move forward. That is why so many people want Rusty out of there to an animal shelter.”
Sementilli, along with several others, are charging that relocating Rusty is part of collusion on the part of developers to build or expand plans for a high-rise apartment building plan currently planned for an adjacent lot that is known as Pelham Parkway Towers.
He, along with other opponents to the development project, planned a rally outside the stable on Saturday, October 6 to try to save the condemned stable. The protest was postponed on Friday afternoon until further notice, and then ultimately cancelled Monday afternoon.
Senator Klein has maintained the allegations are completely and totally unfounded.
Klein, who held a press conference on Thursday, September 20, to call attention to Rusty’s plight, said his concern has always been for the well being of any horses inside the stable.
“If the (current) owner can finance both the reconstruction of the stable and the back-payment of long-overdue property taxes, then I see no reason why these beautiful horses can’t stay in the Bronx,” said Klein. “Over the past two weeks, I’ve been exploring a range of temporary and long-term accommodations for these horses. I have reached out to half a dozen stable owners across the area, but unfortunately none of them have been willing to board Rusty with a promise that his owner will cover the costs.”
A spokesperson for Klein said problems with the stable and living conditions for the horses date back to 2006, long before the development for Pelham Parkway Towers on a adjacent lot was proposed.
In 2006, four out of 15 horses that were living in the stable were removed after receiving numerous complaints, after the ASPCA and several city agencies raided the stables on January 11, 2006 and discovered unsanitary conditions and sick horses inside.
In 2008, Councilman Jimmy Vacca led another raid that removed several other horses.
The Klein spokesman said he has also heard rumors that “the development is being held-up because the horses are on the property” and that Klein’s efforts are a “scheme to kick-start the process.”
“That is unequivocally false,” he said of the claims. “The proposed development — which has nothing to do with our efforts to save the horse inside the condemned stable — has no bearing on the development of the adjacent property. The property upon which the stable sits will be sold at auction, regardless of Rusty’s presence.”
Klein said the development was never a factor in the effort to save Rusty. Senator Jeff Klein said that HPD and Mayor Bloomberg support the development of Pelham Parkway Towers.
“This stable is not even on the same lot as the proposed development. I seriously question the motivations and credibility of anyone who argues otherwise,” said Klein. “The dangers and unsightliness of this stable are very real, especially for the horses inside.”
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394