Group still fighting to save Ice Center in San Mateo

San Mateo officials are set to hear arguments in favor of keeping an ice rink and from those who want to develop the site.
April 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Supporters of San Mateo's only ice skating rink are ready to do battle. The city's planning office listened to arguments Thursday night in favor of keeping the rink and heard from those who want to develop the site where it sits, off Highway 92.

Nothing was decided after Thursday's meeting. It was, however, an opportunity for many people to provide input. It will be the developer versus the skaters.

The Ice Center in San Mateo was a place where many young people and families came to skate. Dina Artzt says her son practically lived here.

"He did free skate, he was at hockey practice, he was with his coach, one on one, he was just here all the time," she said.

The skating rink closed in May 2013, nearly a year ago.

While the sign is gone, the rink and equipment are still there. That's because the city forbid the owner, SPI Holdings of San Francisco, from tearing it down.

SPI owns the Bridgepointe Shopping Center. It's asking the city to amend the current master plan, which includes residential, office, retail space, and the ice skating rink.

"To substitute, the applicant or the owner would like to have retail designated for that particular site," said San Mateo Chief of Planning Ron Munekawa.

SPI Holdings is quite upfront about it. In a statement they said, "Adding retail would make Bridgepointe more vibrant and economically sustainable. It would serve as an economic engine for San Mateo."

More retail space on nearly two acres would bring in more tax dollars. But changing the land use has many people upset.

"I think the owner understood that this was zoned as an ice rink and that this was part of the deal when this shopping center was built. So to now turn around and say now we want to put in retail, seems disingenuous," said Jeremy Verba with Save the Bridgepointe Rink Citizen's Group.

"We're upset, angry, it's hurtful for the developer to try to profit at the expense of all of these innocent kids," Artzt said.

The owner has offered to pay the city a fee to move the rink to another site. The planning department says it wants to hear from the public first.


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