Last Sunday was great - our favorite street fair, the Berkeley Juneteenth Festival. Thank you to the organizers and everyone who came by to share their their Berkeley Iceland stories. Because it is the closest fair to Berkeley Iceland, we get to talk to many neighbors, supporters all. Some know about the Sports Basement proposed store. Others were hearing the news for the first time. "OH NO!" was the most common support, said in a way that expressed a conviction that this will not happen. We all know that Berkeley Iceland needs to move on, but a big box discount sports store is not the answer when there is a viable alternative which brings back the rink.
Along with the supporters from all parts of Berkeley, the biggest question is always, "What can we do?" Our answer - let everyone know we need a place where the community can gather and kids can have healthy fun. Talk to friends and neighbors, contact the mayor and your city representatives, let Sports Basement know that the community needs public recreation more than a store, and let the current owners of Berkeley Iceland know that they need to work with the community.
At the festival we passed out a flier which summarized the current State of Berkeley Iceland. It is posted below. Please pass this to everyone who cares about our community, especially our youth who need healthy places to go and have some fun.
State of Berkeley Iceland
The preservation of Berkeley Iceland, a major goal of Save Berkeley Iceland, was solidified in the Summer of 2010 when the California State Historical Resources Commission found the building eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. At the same time the rink was listed on the State Register of Historical Resources. This reaffirms the 2007 landmark designation by the Berkeley Landmark Preservation Commission.
While the preservation of the building is secure, the future of Berkeley Iceland as a community asset is threatened. In the Spring of 2010, two offers were made for the building which represented two different developments:
Sports Basement, operator of large discount sporting goods stores with plans to convert site to a large retail operation – no skating or community center in the development.
San Francisco housing developer with plans to build low-impact housing on the North and South wings and restoration of the rink and public area.
The current owners, East Bay Iceland / Zamboni family, choose to deal exclusively with Sports Basement. Sports Basement entered into a contract to buy Berkeley Iceland in Fall 2010. Sports Basement has applied for a use permit and waivers of parking requirements.