A landmark San Diego skating rink is hanging in the balance while Civic San Diego and the City Council determine who will buy it.
Skateworld, in the heart of Linda Vista, bounces, rocks and rolls in the hearts of generations that have gone there for more than four decades.
But on March 18, the City Council will decide whether to sell the property to a developer who wants to build a new big box store, or reopen the bidding to investors, which includes some who would want to save the popular skating rink.
Current owner Brett Stang says Skateworld is a bit of a throwback. There, the term “hands-free” doesn’t refer to Bluetooth technology and the favorite game amongst skaters isn’t played on a screen.
"You can skate all day, $10 admission,” Stang said. “And Limbo is one of our most popular games."
Skate world has been family owned for 44 years, and Stang said the space has been rented month-to-month for the last 17 years. It’s the only wooden skating rink left in San Diego, yet its extinction seems imminent.
"This is our life, our second home,” parent Cynthia Mashburn said. “And it's our family."
According to Stang, Civic San Diego awarded a development company called Pacifica the bid to buy the property. He says Pacifica intends to build a big box store on it.
"It has been very shady,” Stang said of Civic San Diego’s bidding process. Civic San Diego is a city-owned non-profit that guides neighborhood planning and development. “They took some bids, they weren't sharing at all who was bidding or what the prices were.”
Civic San Diego did not respond to calls from NBC 7 Monday night or to an email sent last week.
The property is by most accounts the most important available land in Linda Vista, but the Vice President of the Linda Vista Town Council, Blake Hofstad, said the council wasn’t even aware the non-profit was taking bids until after bidding closed.
"No, we were not informed by Civic San Diego that it was accepting bids,” Hofstad said. “On August 9 (2018), the town council became aware only after a community leader, on behalf of an investor, reached out to Civic San Diego about the property. We found out the deadline for bids expired in June."
Skate world's investors put together their own late bid of over $5 million, which Stang said is right in line with Pacifica's and is one of the top three. That bid still stands, but now only the City Council can say whether or not it’s too late for Skateworld.
Community activists and volunteers were angry at how quick and how quiet the bidding process was carried out, and that Civic San Diego apparently didn't consider the neighborhood, the rink’s 18 employees or the thousands of skaters who view Skateworld’s polished wood floors as a treasured regional asset.
"I can just drop my kids off and know they are safe,” parent Cynthia Mashburn said about the rink.
"Parents love to come to places with their kids and you are going to take that away from them. We need more of these types of places instead of getting rid of them,” Stang said.
Christina Stang, who manages the rink with her husband, said what's ironic is how well the skating rink is doing.
"We are doing so well we need to do renovations, but how do you do that when you could get kicked out at any time?" she said. "It's so disheartening what's going on, that we are getting kicked out of the community we support."