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Mosaic District wants to bring roller rink back, proposes ice skating too

The Mosaic District’s roller skating rink from summer 2021 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The outdoor roller skating rink that popped up on Strawberry Lane in the Mosaic District last summer could become a seasonal fixture — with a possible ice skating rink also in the works.

EDENS, the owner and developer of the Merrifield mixed-use community, has partnered with operator Rink Management Services Corporation to revive the Mosaic Skateland rink annually, starting this summer, according to a special permit application recently submitted to Fairfax County.

“The goal of this event is to create a fun activity that brings the community outside and active after a couple years of Covid-19 quarantine,” Rink Management Services said in a statement.

If the permit is approved, the roller skating rink will operate seven days a week from June 24 through Sept. 25, with about a week required to both set the facility up and take it down. It will allow one-hour sessions with up to 50 skaters each.

Instead of blocking off Strawberry Lane, the Mosaic District’s main thoroughfare, the rink will be located on Mosaic Town Center Drive at the District Avenue corner, adjacent to Barnes & Noble.

Like in 2021, this year’s Skateland will open during LGBTQ Pride Month. In an email, EDENS suggests following the launch day with a Pride celebration on June 25, including a donation to FCPS Pride, an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ school employees.

After this year, the roller rink will shift to more of a spring event, running approximately 90 days each year from the beginning of April through the end of June, Rink Management Services suggests.

The company has also proposed introducing an ice skating rink at the Mosaic District during the winter.

The ice rink would run for approximately 120 days from early November to late February, and it could support holiday events as well as the annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for the Special Olympics, according to the application materials.

Because the rink will stick around longer than it did last year, a temporary event special permit is required from the county, which carries a $16,375 fee, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.

At Palchik’s request, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed on March 22 to grant EDENS a 75% reduction in zoning fees in accordance with an emergency measure adopted on July 27 that waived or reduced regulations and fees to assist the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the ordinance only mentions indoor recreational facilities as eligible, Palchik made the case that the Mosaic skating rink proposal is “essentially the same” as the hospitality uses explicitly mentioned in the measure.

“The proposed skating rink is intended to add significant outdoor activities to an existing, established shopping and lifestyle center,” she said, adding that EDENS intends to use the proceeds from the rink to support a local nonprofit.

EDENS declined to provide further details about the skating rink plans.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said the amount of the permit fee “raised my eyebrows,” suggesting the board could examine whether to make changes.

“That seems excessive for something like this,” McKay said.