San Mateo Artist-designer, an Avid Roller-skater Brings Talents To San Francisco Skate Mural Project

Aimee Bruckner at rollerskating rink. Photo by Randy Wong.

Among the thousands who commute along CA Interstate 101, (one of the important transportation arteries to and from San Francisco) is San Mateo resident and artist/designer Aimee Bruckner.  She is pleased that her collaboration with SF Rec. & Parks on the proposed mural for a designated spot for roller skating in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is now in the works awaiting the approval of the SF Art Commission. 

One of the reasons Bruckner offered her talents to the project was simple. She is an avid roller skater. Like most San Mateo and Peninsula residents she commutes regularly to the City.
Yet she took a moment to explain to this reporter why she hopes that San Mateo will some day soon have a designated roller-skating spot of it’s own. 
Artist/Designer Aimee Bruckner in her studio. Photo courtesy of Aimee Bruckner.

“I’ve had to do most of my roller skating outside of San Mateo, mainly in Golden Gate Park and the now closed Redwood Roller Rink in Redwood City that was on Main Street because there are no roller rinks in San Mateo.” 

And, as she exclaimed, “roller skaters largely get chased out of public parks and tennis courts in San Mateo neighborhoods which is quite unfortunate.” 

Elaborating further Bruckner said. “I did become engaged with a community effort involving the San Mateo Planning committee during some developer drama with the ice rink at Bridgepointe a number of years ago. It all was highlighting the fact that we have little to no dedicated indoor recreation in San Mateo.”

In 2017, according to Dina Artzt, who helped spear-head an activist effort, the community was pleased to hear that the ice rink at Bridgepointe would have a chance to revive and reopen. “A Big thanks to City Council Member Joe Goethals for his leadership in our fight to bring back the ice rink to the peninsula,” noted Artzt on Facebook.

Yet as Bruckner recalled it wasn’t all smooth. “Back then, that developer was asking for the ability to remove the public recreation requirement (which was part of his original deal, along with a lower purchase price.) so he could demolish the rink and add in another big-box retail store.” 

According to reports by San Mateo Daily Journal it was actually the then owner of Bridgepointe SPI Holdings that pulled away from the $8 million deal. 

Bridgepointe had once been the complicated Fashion Island mall complex built by Hahn Company in 1982. Besieged by issues from the start, Fashion Island had been built upon what was and is muddy-marsh land, not far from Foster City. 

While Fashion Island initially was a covered indoor complex envisioned to be an alternative to Hillsdale Mall, it never completely stabilized. Several companies and entities such as Sterlik Company and Terranomics among others tried to revise and renovate it. 

When Sand Hill Properties bought Fashion Island in the 1990s it was at less than full capacity.  By this point, the only remaining tenants were the ice skating rink, a movie theater, Montgomery Ward, and an arcade. The complex-mall would go through more hands and proposed deals that fell apart. 

Finally in 1997, after being rebuilt, as an outdoor facility it was renamed as Bridgepointe Shopping Center. According to Wikipedia, It experienced few changes until the ice rink was closed in 2013.

Having SPI Holdings withdraw created doubts. “It was very upsetting to many skaters said Bruckner that this developer (owner) wanted to change the rules mid-stream, leaving the community (mainly ice skaters) with no recreational opportunities for about 50 miles.”

Fortunately, “the community actually won the battle,” said Bruckner.  “A deal was finalized and the rink opened back up as The Nazareth Ice Oasis in 2017. And it’s still open following pandemic protocols. Unfortunately, said Bruckner. I don’t like to be cold so I don’t ever ice skate.”

When she was asked, If you could pick an ideal spot in San Mateo or along the Peninsula to roller skate where would that be? Bruckner replied. “Honestly, all that’s needed is a nice smooth area of pavement, clear of debris and other non-skaters. This is why we often get shooed out of basketball or tennis courts, she said. Those kinds of surface turfs are ideal for roller-skating.

When asked, how about a spot like the Pulgas Water Temple and trail in Woodside? Or perhaps the SF Bay Trail that goes from San Francisco into San Mateo County? 

Bruckner said “If allowed, trails and pathways are more suitable for inline (roller blade) distance or speed skating. Unfortunately, rollerblading is not the kind of skating most of us do.”

As breathtaking as Pulgas Water Temple and the San Francisco Bay Trail is, Bruckner noted. “The terrain isn’t ideal for quad skates; as it’s usually a rougher type of concrete often with debris that our wheels can’t overcome. One pebble can take us out, so that’s why having a clean smooth surface is important for our type of skating.” Bruckner hopes that soon City Planners will catch on and at some point in the near future San Mateo and rest of the Peninsula will have its own ‘Skating Place.’