Roller and ice skating rink in Atascadero gets OK to operate into 2015

Facility will offer skating and concerts on land designated for the proposed La Plaza Downtown Retail Center

tstrickland@thetribunenews.comMay 6, 2014 

A plan to develop a key parcel in downtown Atascadero with shopping and dining is still at least a year away, but a place to roller skate will fill the void in the meantime. 

The Atascadero Planning Commission unanimously agreed Tuesday to amend a permit for 6500 El Camino Real — the future home of La Plaza Downtown Retail Center — to allow a temporary roller and ice skating rink with live concerts to operate there through March 2015.

For the past two years, Blades on Ice entrepreneur Derek Ehinger has brought a seasonal ice skating rink to Atascadero, setting up a large white tent in different locations from December to March. About 14,000 ice skaters used the rink in its most recent season. 

Now operating downtown, Ehinger is converting the rink to accommodate roller skating for the first time.

“We’re very pleased about your accomplishments,” commission chairman Dennis Schmidt told Ehinger.

Ehinger inked a deal with La Plaza’s proprietors to stay on their land in exchange for 10 percent of the rink’s gross sales, Ehinger previously said.

The temporary roller rink is set to run until September once it opens later this month. The seasonal ice rink then returns for a third year, operating from October through March. The permit expires March 30. 

Ehinger’s goal in running the temporary rinks is to build sponsorships to establish San Luis Obispo County’s first permanent ice rink. He’s looking for potential locations.

When La Plaza was approved in August 2013, project developer Larry Wysong was hesitant to give a construction timeline, but his permit required that it begin within two years. 

City officials now say Wysong intends to move forward with La Plaza, which includes 26,500 square feet of retail space and 78 parking spaces on 1.5 acres, in summer 2015.

Neither Wysong nor property owner Ben Hoff attended Tuesday’s meeting.

The big white tent that’s housed Blades on Ice will look different this summer. 

Because of the fire department’s concerns about a new wooden floor Ehinger built, the attraction must lose its tenting material and operate under the tent’s metal frame only, making it an open-air venue. Ehinger can reapply to use the tent when the ice rink returns this winter, city planners say. 

The metal frame has to stay up so he can hang lights, Ehinger said. 

Planning Commission vice chairman Mark Dariz asked whether the tent structure would stand without the tenting. An engineer assessment said it would remain stable, city planners said.

Ehinger’s plans call for a roller rink, private party area, concessions and seating. He also plans to host special events such as concerts and roller derby nights. Tuesday’s approval allows him to exceed downtown noise ordinance rules by an hour, which will allow his concerts to play one night a week until 10 p.m.

Tuesday’s vote was 5-0; commissioners Duane Anderson and Len Colamarino were absent.


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