The fate of the Venice circus arena may be decided Monday. For years city leaders have gone back and forth about what to do with the old winter quarters of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Demolition is one option. Giving the group trying to save it more time the other.
The city gave the group trying trying to save it five years to raise enough money. Just two and half years later citing code violations they gave themselves the city now say it's unsafe and should be torn down.
"They tied our hands at almost every level of this. They could have not made it easier but not thrown up so many roadblocks." At special meeting Monday Orlando Bevington and the Venice Circus Arts Foundation are trying to limit it to leaving the steal bones of the building while asking for more time. "we would have the steel superstructure that is kind of Eiffel Tower like. It would be incredible. Paint it, throw a canopy over it and have all types of events."
Council Members say though that for whatever reason not enough benchmarks have been made to indicate the group will ever be able to gain enough support. "I would like to preserve as much history as we can in Venice but preserving history takes money. If we don't have money the only other place is taxation." Venice Mayor John Holic says he doesn't think tax payers want to pay and the land is simply too valuable. "The airport and the FAA has stated that the land should generate close to a half million dollars per year in rent. I don't see that coming from the circus arts foundation."
The foundation now says if they get the time and it doesn't work they will pay to have the rest taken away. Perhaps even salvaging the steel for reconstruction elsewhere. "There is a difference of about $100,000 between the full demolition cost and the partial which is what we are asking."
A last ditch effort to save a piece of area history, even if it's just pieces. "The airport tells us a dirt lot is more valuable then the arena. I can't even comment on that type of thinking."
City leaders say the reason it doesn't cost that much more for a complete tear down is because the companies who would bid on the project want the steal for recycling.
Before voting on a partial tear down or turning the lights out forever city hall was shut down by a power outage.