On Tuesday, a new era was ushered in at the Van Cortlandt Park horse stables as Scott and Elizabeth Tarter, who co-own Lockwood Equine, took over as the new concessionaire of the facility. The husband and wife team won a 10-year contract.
Catango Corporation, which preceded Lockwood, ended a 20-year contract that was criticized in recent years for not offering enough services to the general public and allowing private horses to be kept in the stables for free, a violation of their agreement with the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Mr. Tarter said his goal is to create a “riding academy for the community.”
However, Community Board (CB) 8 Chairman Daniel Padernacht said his organization did not get sufficient time to vet Lockwood Equine’s answer to the Parks Department’s request for proposals before the new operator won the license.
“The Parks Department has not had a very good history of transparency and notice,” Mr. Padernacht said. “At the end of a license, the public still has a right to know certain things. The Parks Department went off on their own and we had been asking them for months to talk about the vendor. They don’t have a good reputation, in my eyes.”
CB 8 was notified of the agreement between the Parks Department at Lockwood Equine nearly three weeks before a hearing earlier this month, according to both sides. Mr. Padernacht voiced his concerns when he testified at the hearing on Aug. 11, but he acknowledged that at this point, “there is really nothing we can do” if CB 8 is not happy with the stable’s proposed benefits to the community.
“The new concessionaire, Lockwood Equine, was selected from a publicly advertised Request for Proposals (RFP) based on its experience, planned operations, fee offer, proposed capital investment, and financial capability,” Parks Department spokesman Arthur Pincus wrote in an e-mail. “The new concessionaire intends to provide substantial community benefits, including an expanded riding academy, more horses for school-age children to learn to ride, more programming and continued therapeutic riding sessions on Saturdays.”