Detroit Lakes skateboarders forming association to build and improve area skatepark


Members of the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association have been meeting since last August in an effort to organize and raise the funds necessary to build the city a new skatepark, said Matthew Clark, chair of the association.

“We sit down and we talk, and (the other members) have some really great ideas,” said Clark. “We’ve been meeting constantly.”

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

“He sliced his hand open and he had to get three stitches,” he said. “I’ve actually cut myself down there on screws, too. With the temperature differences between the winter and the summer, it’s only a matter of time before those screws start working their way up.”

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

Matthew Clark, chairperson of the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association, smiles from his personal garage-converted skate park. The skatepark association began as a way to repair the city's skatepark, but has since turned into an group that hopes to build a skateboarding following in Detroit Lakes. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

Matthew Clark, chairperson of the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association, smiles from his personal garage-converted skate park. The skatepark association began as a way to repair the city’s skatepark, but has since turned into an group that hopes to build a skateboarding following in Detroit Lakes. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

“I worked with the city and we got down to the skate park, went over some of the repairs that needed to be made,” said Clark. “They took some ramps out because they were just beyond repair and at that point we started hosting these little meetings to see what we want to do.”

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

“It really becomes a communal thing,” he said.

The group has also been in contact with various skatepark designers to begin the process of coming up with a new plan for the Detroit Lakes skatepark. Clark said a new park may cost as much as $600,000, but the group doesn’t intend to replace the entire skatepark at once.

He said a lot of the changes would come in chunks of new structures, combined with existing equipment. The group has even contacted local sculptor Hans Gilsdorf to potentially create a sculpture that is skate-able.

Currently, the group is shopping for lawyers to help them incorporate as a nonprofit organization so they can apply for grants and utilize other funding sources. The city of Detroit Lakes has committed $75,000 from its budget to the skatepark from 2020 to 2022 for repairs and other initiatives, said Shawn King, public works director for Detroit Lakes. He also said he hopes the group will be able to use those funds to apply for fund-matching grant programs that could help the association raise money for its new skatepark goal.

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

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

“Anytime you add any feature, like a skateboard park or pickleball courts … it’s a great asset,” said King. “The city will assist in writing grants, and stuff like that.”

King also said he looks forward to continue working with the skatepark association and seeing their plans for the future, which can benefit the city with additional tourism dollars.

“To be honest with you, all of these parks, it’s an attraction for people from outside the area to come to Detroit Lakes,” said King. “Our parks department … they do a great job keeping these parks looking the way they do … so when people do come here, they have a great experience.”

The skatepark association will be holding a Memorial Weekend Skate Bash on Saturday, May 29. Clark said he hopes to arrange catering for this event and expand the organization’s membership.

The long term goals for the association, Clark said, are to build a new outdoor skatepark, start a career path for novice skateboarders to become sponsored professionals, start a series of learn-to-skateboard programs through the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center and build an indoor skatepark so the organization would have a home all year.

For more information about the Detroit Lakes Skatepark Association, visit the groups website and Facebook page for details about upcoming events, and meetings.



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Detroit Lakes skateboarders forming association to build and improve area skatepark

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