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Quick and Dirty

Homeless Horses

City Backs Out On Deal to Find New Stable For Arabbers

By Charles Cohen | Posted 4/23/2008

Many of Baltimore's arabbers and their horses have been without a permanent home since August 2007, when the Housing Authority condemned the city-owned Retreat Street building they were using as a stable ("All the Pretty Horses," Mobtown Beat, Aug. 22, 2007). And despite the fact that the city told the arabbers that it would work with them to find them a new place to board their horses, just this week Mayor Sheila Dixon said the arabbers are going to have to find a new home on their own.

The arabbers, who peddle fruits and vegetables around Baltimore from horse-drawn carts, have housed their horses and carts at a temporary tent under the Monroe Street Bridge in West Baltimore since December. Apparently, the city's plan to build the arabbers a new stable, or find a place more suitable for their horses, is no longer on the table.

"First of all, the city, we are not responsible for the arabbers, we are working with them," Dixon says, interviewed after an unrelated groundbreaking in Curtis Bay on April 21. "We are helping them, but it's going to be up to the arabbers."

Dixon says she hopes that the Pennsylvania Avenue Redevelopment Collaborative (PARC) will work out a deal with the city to oversee the relocation of horses. It's unclear how much of the construction costs, if any, the city is willing to foot. Dixon would only say, "What we're doing is we're going to finalize everything we agree to."

PARC, which focuses on bringing tourist and business traffic to the Pennsylvania Avenue area, once a jazz mecca that many hope can be revitalized into a historic area, has helped keep the arabbers and their horses from being turned out in the street after safety hazards at the Retreat Street stables resulted in the city's condemnation. After an inspection of the dilapidated building turned up serious problems, the city moved 49 horses to temporary stables at Pimlico ("Horse Nonsense," Mobtown Beat, Oct. 3, 2007) before putting them under Monroe Street in December.

James Hamlin, director of PARC and lead negotiator with the city on the arabber situation, says he learned in a meeting with housing officials on April 18 that the city would not be building a new stable to house the arabber horses. Hamlin says that Deputy Housing Commissioner Reggie Scriber, who has been overseeing the relocation process, told him the city did not have the money for the project. "They are expecting to wash their hands of this," Hamlin says.

"I'm being told that there is no funding for a stable and that really the city does not want to get into the horse business or the stable business," Hamlin told a group of about 12 arabbers at an emergency meeting with the Arabber Preservation Society on April 20.

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Some People Are Born Freaks. Jim Hall Turned Himself Into One.

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