Numerous people have spoken passionately about the Culver City Ice Arena, and we want to thank everyone who has taken the time to email, write or speak to us. It's clear that this issue is important to the community in Culver City and beyond. Most of the comments have expressed an ardent desire to keep ice-skating in Culver City. We share that desire. Our friends, our neighbors and our own families enjoy the Ice Arena, too.
We would like to share some background information, so that the community may better understand this important issue, and the city's role in it.
The ice rink nearly closed four years ago. At the time, councilmembers were actively involved in this issue. The ice rink's lease was expiring and the property owner was asking for rent closer to market value. Recognizing the value of the Culver City Ice Arena to the community, the city worked with the owner, operator, and had discussions with a third party interested in operating the rink. In the end, the owner extended Culver City Ice Arena's lease with significantly higher rent.
Recently, when the "For Lease" sign was posted on the building, councilmembers again reached out to the owner, the ice rink's operator, and the third party previously interested in taking charge of the rink. The city has made numerous attempts to facilitate an agreement to keep the ice rink open.
At the same time, another company was interested in the property for a different use. Because the property is privately owned, Culver City has no influence, direct or otherwise, over their negotiations. Our role is one of encouraging and maintaining lines of communication between the parties and providing information that might enable them to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement.
When we're asked to "Save the Rink" we can answer in all sincerity that we've tried in the past, and we've continued these efforts to date. The powers of the city are defined by law – we cannot force the owner into an unwanted lease any more than we can make the operator pay more than is affordable, nor can we take on the cost – at taxpayers' expense – to subsidize the rink.
On Monday, 1/27, the City Council will discuss the environmental impacts of the rink as it is currently being operated, and the mitigation measures needed to make the property and surrounding environment safe. We will also explore the historical significance of the building. This discussion will address many of the concerns raised by residents and fans of the rink. However, these considerations will not change the underlying fact that a private company – no matter how much we love it - cannot afford a major rent increase on a private piece of property.
Public participation is, as always, encouraged. The meeting will take place at City Hall, 9770 Culver Blvd. Culver City 90232, 7pm and the link to the agenda item for Monday night is:
Andrew N. Weissman
Councilmembers, City of Culver City