Napanee roller rink’s future in doubt with no lease signed between owner and Agricultural Society

Disco Ball Events owner Jay Bradley and his son Sam inside the arena's skate room in this photo from January 2022. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Weeks away from its typical October opening, Napanee’s Disco Ball Events indoor roller-rink instead appears well on its way to shutting down for good.

The Lennox Agricultural Society, which owns the arena at 170 York Street that has housed the indoor roller-skating since 2019, has given Disco Ball Events owner Jay Bradley until Oct. 6 to clear out his equipment. That’s because Bradley is yet to sign a lease agreement for the upcoming year, having had since April of this year to do so. Bradley has countered that he was waiting to see if he’d have the funds to operate for the fall and winter season before putting pen to paper.

“Any smart business person is not going to sign the lease unless they have the funding,” said Bradley, who noted his business suffered during COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. “I mean basically where the controversy is is the deadline. They moved the deadline (to sign the lease) so many times with the revisions. Then all of a sudden on Tuesday, which was when the kids went back to school, we had a conversation set up for 7 p.m. that day and that’s when (Lennox Agricultural Society president Carol McKinley) informed me that the locks were changed.”

Bradley acknowledges he had fallen behind on his monthly rent, but was able to pay those through the help of GoFundMe.

“That’s after I caught up, sent her an e-transfer and everything to catch up with rent,” said Bradley. “I was ready to sign the agreement and everything and that’s when she told me no, we’ve changed the locks, see you later.”

After a successful first winter season in 2019, Bradley said the roller rink was starting to really gain momentum, popular with both locals and visitors from across the province who made the trip to see one of the few indoor roller-rink venues still operating in the province. The pandemic stunted that momentum, leading to some trying years before being able to open again without restrictions.

Skaters glide to the sounds of music from the 1980s and 90s during the grand opening of Disco Ball Events roller-rink in January of 2020. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

An online petition calling for the Agricultural Society to sign a lease with Bradley has garnered 1,193 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

As word of its impending closure hit social media, calls for the Lennox Agricultural Society to let Bradley sign a lease were prominent there as well. The society released a statement in response.

“As a rental facility, we have rules, regulations and guidelines for all our renters.  We require respect to all our other renters, people within the facility, as well as the facility owners. A 2023/24 Lease Agreement for Disco Ball Events was presented to Jay Bradley in April 2023. Despite there being ample time for confirmation by Jay Bradley, the return agreement was not signed. An additional grace period of four months was given to Jay Bradley/Disco Ball Events to sign the 2023/24 Lease Agreement.  This was not completed. Subsequently, a 30-day notice to vacate was issued. The Lennox Agricultural Society additionally would like to let the community know that there were no fees collected during COVID shut downs by our renters.

The Lennox Agricultural Society reiterates its support to have family friendly activities such as roller skating take place at the community center. We are working towards finding a positive way forward in this regard,” reads the statement.

Bradley believes the decision to not renew the lease isn’t strictly business motivated.

“She keeps claiming that it’s not personal, but I’ve challenged their leadership skills so many times and rubbed their ego the wrong way so many times, how can you say it’s not personal?” said Bradley. “I’m willing to step aside and let somebody else take over, with some sort of agreement of course. I’ll be happy to step aside if that means it stays open.”

McKinley reiterated from the society’s standpoint, it has nothing to do with Bradley and everything to do with the lease that wasn’t signed.

“This is not a personal issue, it’s a board decision,” said McKinley. “The lease hasn’t been signed, that’s the bottom line. The lease did not get signed. All of our renters have to sign a rental agreement. It’s no different for him than anybody else that rents from us.”

She noted the York street arena houses a handful of other community clubs and the rules are the same for all of the their renters.

“I get the impression that she wants to kick me out and all my equipment, my video and all the roller skates out and then it sounds like she wants to try it on her own,” said Bradley. “I get the impression that they’re trying to do it on their own, whether it’s let someone else come in and take over. It just doesn’t make sense because all of the equipment is sitting there and installed. I’ve got projectors hanging from the ceiling, all I’d like to do is somehow leave that stuff in there and maybe pay me a fee for it being in there. Or I’m happy to sell it, doesn’t matter. The point is I’ll come up with a solution to help and make sure that this continues.”

The Agricultural Society hasn’t completely shutdown the idea of continuing to house a roller-rink within their facility.

“It was never about not having roller skating,” said McKinley. “We see it does have value in the community and we’re just looking at a different avenue of how that will look.”

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