Community fighting to save San Mateo ice skating rink 

click to enlarge The Bridgepointe rink’s closure would displace five hockey leagues and a skating school in San Mateo. - MIKE KOOZMIN/2013 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/2013 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • The Bridgepointe rink’s closure would displace five hockey leagues and a skating school in San Mateo.

The Peninsula’s only ice skating rink is scheduled to close its doors at the end of the month, but a surging public movement has been fighting to have a say in what happens to the Bridgepointe shopping center in San Mateo.

The shopping center’s developer, San Francisco-based SPI Holdings, has submitted a plan to replace the ice rink with retail space. The city’s Bridgepointe master plan, drafted in 1998 when SPI developed the site, includes a requirement that a recreational space be included.

The developer asked for an amendment to the plan that would allow it to create an off-site recreational facility. That would consist of installing all-weather turf fields and a restroom at nearby Mariner’s Island Park.

The skating rink is now home to five hockey leagues, a skating school and various summer camps. Some of the programs have already been canceled in anticipation of the shutdown.

Public comment on the matter went on for more than an hour at the end of last week’s San Mateo City Council meeting, and included several youths wearing hockey gear and asking for the rink to remain open.

Calls to SPI Holdings and city officials were not returned. But Julie McAuliffe, whose son skates regularly at the rink, believes the proposed field should not be considered a facility for “similar recreational use” as required by the 1998 master plan.

“The city does have the authority to say this needs to be an ice rink,” she said. “And at a minimum, if they want to look at an alternative use, then there should be an alternative use on the table and it should go through the process so that the community can provide input and it can be voted on appropriately.”

The hockey leagues are currently trying to find a new home, and may need to travel as far as Cupertino, Vacaville or Stockton for their home games and practice sessions. McAuliffe said most rinks in the Bay Area are already overbooked.

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