File photo by Kim Hackett
(Feb., 2010) After considering demolition of the Venice Circus Arena, the City Council decided to save the skeletons of the main arena and small octagonal building. The site was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers circus.
by Eric Ernst
Saturday, June 15, 2013
The old circus arena in Venice, condemned as unsafe by the building department, earned a reprieve last week, one that City Councilman Jim Bennett called "a good dice roll," and one that Mayor John Holic predicted might be no gamble at all.
The council voted 4-3 to save the skeletons of the main arena and a small octagonal building where Gunther Gebel-Williams once trained his big cats for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Both sides made valid arguments, although most folks in Venice are probably satisfied with the outcome.
First, the minority viewpoint:
Council members Jeanette Gates, Bob Daniels and Emilio Carlesimo favored saving only the smaller structure, which, with a bit of imagination, could be renovated to resemble a miniature Big Top tent and used as a circus museum. It could even be moved from its present city airport location.
As Carlesimo noted, this type of project would be manageable and probably wouldn't cost that much.
Gates homed in on the money. "When I came into office three years ago, it was all about saving jobs, and we equated every dollar that we spent to an employee. And I just want to remind you all that we're not saving any money by keeping some of these buildings," she said. "… I sure hate it when we have to terminate people because of cutbacks."
Both are reasonable observations, but they take a somewhat narrow view of the issue, a point that Bennett addressed.
"Too often recently because of the economy, we have been overly focused on the bottom line," he said. "I think that government is much more than that, and in this particular instance it's important to be much more than that.