Talks about keeping ranger’s horses go nowhere

David Taber

Gazette File Photo by Lori DeSantis
Boston Park Ranger Steve Kruszkowski, riding Winston—one of seven Park Ranger horses stabled at Franklin Park—greets students who participated in Law Day at the West Roxbury District Courthouse in Forest Hills on April 16.

One horse dies

The city continues to ignore offers of private funding to care for the horses in its Boston Park Rangers mounted unit, parks advocate Julie Crockford, head of the Jamaica Plain-based Emerald Necklace Conservancy, told the Gazette this week.

Meanwhile, one of the eight horses that make up the unit died May 20, Lori DeSantis, an Egleston Square resident who volunteers at the rangers’ Franklin Park stable, told the Gazette. That horse, Jazz, was 26—old for a horse. An autopsy indicated the horse had a tumor near its heart, DeSantis said in an e-mail. DeSantis is a freelance photographer whose work sometimes appears in the Gazette.

For the second year running, the city’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget includes no funding for the rangers’ horses. Crockford led a $140,000 private fund-raising effort that supported the horses when funding for their upkeep was cut from the Fiscal Year 2010 city budget.

Last years donation included a $50,000 contribution to support the horses and $90,000 to hire seasonal rangers to supplement the regular 12-ranger staff.

While private donors only contributed non-personnel costs for the horses last year, they might this year be open to paying for the work-hours that go into taking care of them, she said.

Crockford said she requested information about how much that would cost at a meeting with Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak May 7, but had not heard back as of Monday.

Boston Parks Department spokesperson Mary Hines previously told the Gazette that the department is not interested in maintaining the horses because it would take away from the time the rangers spend in the field. The union the Boston Park Rangers Association opposes disbanding the unit.

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