Detroit Lakes skateboarders forming association to build and improve area skatepark

Members of the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association have been meeting since last August to organize and raise funds to build a new skate park in the city, said Matthew Clark, chairman of the association.

“We sit down and talk and (the other members) have some really great ideas,” said Clark. “We met all the time.”

The group was formed after Clark’s 12-year-old son Christian cut his hand from an exposed screw on a skatepark ramp last summer. Clark said he wanted to make sure repairs were done so no one else would be injured on the skate park’s equipment.

“He cut his hand open and had to take three stitches,” he said. “I also cut myself off at screws there. Given the temperature differences between winter and summer, it’s only a matter of time before these screws work their way up.”

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Clark said he also took his son to a Detroit Lakes Park Board meeting to teach the child how to communicate and fix issues like broken skate ramps in the community.

Matthew Clark, chairman of the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association, smiles from his personal skate park converted into a garage.  The Skatepark Association started out as a way to fix the city's skate park, but has since grown into a group hoping to build a skateboarding following in Detroit Lakes.  (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

Matthew Clark, chairman of the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association, smiles from his personal skate park converted into a garage. The Skatepark Association started out as a way to fix the city’s skate park, but has since grown into a group hoping to build a skateboarding following in Detroit Lakes. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

“I worked with the city and we went to the skate park and looked over some of the repairs that needed to be done,” said Clark. “They took out some ramps because they were beyond repair, and that’s when we started hosting these little meetings to see what we want to do.”

On Saturday, April 3rd, the group hosted an impromptu Easter Weekend Skate Bash, which was attended by more than 50 skateboarders from the region. Clark said he was happy with the turnout over the weekend. He also hopes to turn the Easter weekend craze into an organization that can build its membership and hold these types of events more regularly.

“It’s really going to be a collaborative cause,” he said.

The group was also in contact with various skate park designers to work out a new plan for the Detroit Lakes skate park. Clark said a new park could cost up to $ 600,000, but the group has no plans to replace the entire skate park at once.

He said many of the changes would come in pieces of new structure combined with existing equipment. The group even reached out to local sculptor Hans Gilsdorf for a possible skate-ready sculpture.

The group is currently looking for lawyers to help them establish themselves as a nonprofit so they can apply for grants and use other sources of funding. The city of Detroit Lakes invested $ 75,000 from its budget in repairs and other initiatives in the skate park from 2020 to 2022, said Shawn King, director of public works for Detroit Lakes. He also hopes the group will be able to use these funds to apply for fund-matching grant programs that could help the association raise money for its new skate park destination.

Alex Eckman, a member of the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association, serves hot dogs during the group's Easter Weekend Bash on April 3, 2021 at the Detroit Lakes Skatepark.  The group drew around 50 skateboarders and scooter tricksters from the region to their event.  (submitted photo)

Alex Eckman, a member of the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association, serves hot dogs during the group’s Easter Weekend Bash on April 3, 2021 at the Detroit Lakes Skatepark. The group drew around 50 skateboarders and scooter tricksters from the region to their event. (submitted photo)

“Anytime you add features like a skateboard park or pickleball courts, it’s a huge asset,” said King. “The city will help with writing scholarships and the like.”

King also said he looks forward to continuing to work with the Skatepark Association and see their plans for the future, which the city can capitalize on with additional tourism dollars.

“To be honest, all of these parks make Detroit Lakes an attraction for people from outside the area,” said King. “Our parks department … they do a great job making these parks look the way they do. When people come here, they have a great experience.”

The Skatepark Association will host a Memorial Weekend Skate Bash on Saturday, May 29th. Clark is hoping to arrange the catering for this event and expand the organization’s membership.

The club’s long-term goals, Clark said, are to build a new outdoor skate park, start a career path for inexperienced skateboarders to become sponsored professionals, a series of skateboard learning programs through the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center, and build an indoor one -Skatepark so that the organization has a home all year round.

For more information about the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association, please visit the group’s website and Facebook page. There you will find details on upcoming events and meetings.

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