On July 30, 2016, the Milford Skating Rink held the last public skate in the building where they have been since 1982. According to rink owner, Carmen Kemper, the lease for the building was not renewed as the landlord raised the rent significantly higher than other rents in downtown Milford.
“The rent is much higher than I can pay,” Ms. Kemper explained. “I cannot raise my rates high enough and present a hardship to the children and families in Milford. This meant that we had no other option but to close the rink at the present location.”
Public outcry regarding the closure of the family-friendly business has been significant. Many people on social media are outraged that the only outlet for children and families in downtown Milford has had to close their doors.
“Sad to hear this,” posted Bobbi Kemp Turner on Facebook. “There were many great memories made there, both for me as a kid growing up in Milford and for my children. We were always made to feel at home there. Thank you Milford Skate Center for the memories. I wish you the best wishes for a new place to continue to pass more memories on. Through the memories I have are in that building, the ones my kids have are of the people who are making it run, no matter where you take it.”
Ms. Kemper says that there is something the public can do to help keep the skating rink alive in Milford. A fundraising site has been created online at plumfund.com under #savemilfordskate.
“I have two or three places in mind but none that I can walk in and start a skating rink,” Ms. Kemper said. “They will need renovation and remodeling. We have to have a particular skating floor which will need to be installed. I sat down with the City Planner and the Mayor who made some suggestions, but there is nothing definite or guaranteed as of yet.”
Mayor Bryan Shupe said that he and Rob Pierce, City Planner, did meet with Ms. Kemper to discuss options. He said they discussed two scenarios – one if the lease was renewed by the landlord and one if the lease was not renewed.
“If the lease was renewed and the owners of the rink wanted to look at inside or outside rehabilitation, the City would be more than happy to walk the owners through any applications and processes for state grants, including the Downtown Development District program the City is working to secure. This grant allows private business or building owners within the designated city, to apply for up to 20 percent of their hard costs from state grants. If the lease was not renewed by the landlord, the City, through the Economic Development Director, would assist in locating potential new partners that he business owners could work with. Based on the needs of the business that was discussed with us, we will use our resources to locate properties and connect them with potential investors.” A few offers on social media have been made by potential investors.
Mayor Shupe said that it was unfortunate that the owners of the building could not reach an agreement and that the City of Milford is committed to helping the owners of the Milford Skating Rink relocate in Milford. He encourages anyone who has expressed concerns over the past few months to reach out now to the owners to see what they can do to help.
Ms. Kemp says that if they are able to locate investors or incentives to relocate, she hopes to be able to expand the rink, making it larger and adding more amenities at a new location. Currently, however, she says she first needs to identify a new location. She is not sure if she will rent or purchase a property as it will depend on funding sources. She said that the roller derby team that used the rink for practice relocated to Dover in June and she is unsure if they will return to Milford if a new rink is developed.
“If people want to help us at this point, they can do so by identifying places where we can move or offering assistance with the remodeling,” Ms. Kemper said. “The fundraising site is up and running. We are grateful and thankful for the outpouring of support. Our goal now is to move forward and create a rink that is bigger and better than before, but we need some help to accomplish that goal.”