San Jose roller derby skaters collide with developers

roller derby and housing development collideA roller skating rink in San Jose, California is being threatened with demolition to make way for 150 studio apartments for the working poor built by the non-profit Charities Housing. Now, you would think that is a pretty good thing, at least at first glance. But not so fast. And, not if you happen to be skater.

At a recent public meeting that The Mercury News describes as "tense," some 100 roller derby players rolled out in force to do battle against the housing development. On their website, The Silicon Valley Roller Girls made their plea for the neighborhood to support the San Jose Skate, as the rink is called. "While we support the mission of Charities Housing, we feel there are other opportunities to develop that would not involve tearing down this cherished San Jose institution."In other words, build the housing project anywhere other than here.

As it turns out, the skaters are not alone in their opposition to the potential loss of the skating rink in favor of housing for the poor. Some non-skating San Jose residents are fearful that the low-cost housing will be a blight on their neighborhood and prefer that the skating rink remain standing. According to the local newspaper, one person who attended a meeting, referring to the proposed housing project, said "I guarantee you, it'll bring drugs, alcohol and gangs with it."

The non-skating opponents of the housing have formed an alliance with the skaters, hoping that, together, for different reasons, they can keep the skating rink right where it is. "You don't see a lot of family activity here," said the president of the Blossom Valley Neighborhood Association, according to The Mercury News. "We want something that draws people to our community."

Yes, but apparently only people mounted atop wheels.

Whatever the outcome, it is likely to take many years before there is a final resolution. Till then, skate on!

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has written about real estate related issues for several years.

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