Today, Sunday, is the last day the Culver City Ice Skating Rink will open its doors. After fifty-two years, the iconic skating rink is closing its doors. This is a rink where the L.A. Kings and Olympic figure skaters, Michelle Kwan and Scott Hamilton, once trained.
To many Culver City residents, this is not just another ice rink. This is the fabric of their town.
The new lessee, Planet Granite plans to offer yoga, rock climbing and a fitness center in their new facility but no ice rink. However, as many in the community have noted, Culver City already has eleven yoga studios, nine fitness centers and four rock climbing centers locally. Why would they want another one in their city?
As details of the deal behind the ice rinks closure have emerged, a backlash and boycott has initiated against Planet Granite and the current property owner, Mr. Karagozian. The company and Culver City council members have been bombarded with pleas from residents to keep the ice rink open.
Planet Granite put out an apology of sorts on their website. Yet in the process of doing so, the organization not only took the L.A. Kings (they were the second highest bidders) President’s words out of context, but managed to enrage the Culver City community even more. And the negative comments, directly below their “press release” are growing.
Many residents feel that it is clear that Planet Granite does not understand the tight nit community that exists in Culver City. In erroneously referring to the city as West L.A. they set off a whirlwind of criticism. Culver City is not West Los Angeles.
Planet Granite has defended its position and the current property owner in its statement, “The landlords rely on the rent to support themselves and their families. They seek a tenant for their building who can reliably pay a fair rent and properly maintain their building.”
What they failed to mention was that the current property owner and attorney, Mike A. Karagozian, was seeking a whopping $68,000 a month in rent, more than double of what it was originally requiring of the skating rink. That’s not a livable wage as they claim, that’s downright greediness. It would, in fact, be enough to support a life of luxury for himself and his family.
Some have suggested that a better location for Planet Granite would be the former Albertson’s Supermarket, situated on one of the area’s main streets. The building is just as big as the Culver City ice skating rink with plenty of parking for their customers. The best part is that it is already home to sports fans, situated almost directly across the L.A. Clippers training facility.
As community members push forward to block Planet Granite from conducting business on their beloved ice skating rink, first steps have been taken to contact Culver City elected officials.
“According to Councilman Micheal O’Leary, around 20,000 people have participated in a grassroots campaign of petitions, handwritten letters, presentations at meetings and social networking. O’Leary says he has never experienced anything in his time of service that reached this level of public engagement” (DnA)
On Monday February 10th, a day where there is no figure skating events scheduled for the Sochi Olympics in Russia, a rally will be held in front of Culver City City Hall for those interested in attending. It will be held between 5pm to 9pm, after school and after work hours, giving many constituents and fellow supporters, the time and ability to attend.