Ex-manager hoping to reopen former Crystal Palace for Whitehaven children

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - After the Crystal Palace Skating Rink closed last month, former workers are trying to invent a new safe place for kids.

"A lot of kids had faith in Crystal Palace. Nobody got killed inside of that place so it was sort of a safe haven for them, and it gave them something to do," former Crystal Palace manager Kenny Lee said. "And to just let it close like that, I just find it unacceptable."

Lee worked at Crystal Palace for more than a decade, and he said he's going to do everything he can to bring it back to life.

"It won't be called the Crystal Palace; it'll be called the Palace Skating Center," he explained.

Lee and a team of other volunteers met at the Whitehaven Branch Library on Wednesday to discuss the changes.

He hopes the new Skating Center will be more than just a place to have fun.

"They're going to be a lot of major changes. We're going to have some after-school programs there, we're going to be dealing with kids who have to do community service that'll be able to come there. We want kids to be able to do volunteer work, so it's not going to be just the average Crystal Palace," Lee said.

Verry Sims said she's looking forward to the changes.

"When I heard about the palace was closing down, it was real sad to me," Sims said.

With all of the crimes committed by teenagers in Memphis, Lee said he's pushing to have the new skating center open sooner rather than later.

"There is no place like home and for decades people brought their kids there. That was the place to have your birthday party. I mean to meet some of your school friends and eat nachos and roller skate, that was just the place and to just let it go--it ain't happening in my book," Lee said.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.