As the roller skate wheel spins

Roller skating enthusiasts are no doubt feeling the blues lately, as it appears Disco Ball Events’ run in Greater Napanee is coming to an end.

With no lease agreement between business owner Jay Bradley and building owner Lennox and Addington Agricultural Society, it’s not likely that there will be any roller-skating going inside the building anytime soon. October is typically when Disco Ball Events would open for the fall and winter season, operating weekends inside the York Street arena. Instead Bradley has been issued an Oct. 6 eviction notice to have all his equipment removed from the building.

Unfortunate as this whole situation is, it’s been made worse by the fact it has been played out online for all to see. Bradley shared his side to social media, prompting the Agricultural Society to respond with a release of their own, telling their side. As for which side is in the right, we’ll let readers come to their own conclusion. The reality is it shouldn’t have ever come to this point and private business dealings should remain just that-private. Once dirty laundry starts to get aired on social media, misconceptions are born and assumptions are made, often without all the information.

One positive take away should be the public support for actual roller-skating itself. Since the news of the lease drama broke, numerous residents have been sharing their stories of what the roller skating has meant for them, whether its parents who were happy to have a safe place for their kids to go or teens expressing their disappointment at losing one of their favourite hangouts. Napanee has long been short on activities for youth, particularly in the winter months. Anything that keeps kids active and social is a good thing.

Before getting into the journalism business, this reporter was introduced to the working world as a skate counter attendant of a roller skating rink in Whitby known as Wheelies. Though a bit bigger of an operation and more established in the community than Disco Ball Events, the idea was the same. During that time this future writer witnessed how a roller rink can be a community hub and what it can mean for skaters of all ages. In somewhat similar fashion Wheelies abruptly left the community when the owners sold it, assuring the employees at the time the incoming management intended to keep it operating as a roller rink. One week later we were informed that wasn’t the case anymore and we were all laid off. It’s now an office building.

The reaction within the community was the same, lamenting the loss of an institution within the town.

Ideally there’s a way to keep roller-skating in Napanee. Whether or not Bradley and the Agricultural Society can iron out their differences remains to be seen. Both seem interested in making it work one way or another. There’s definite interest from the community. All that’s left is to find a viable, sustainable way to make that happen. And have everyone get along in the process.

-Adam Prudhomme

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