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Bemidji skate park: Company secured to design and construct local facility

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The world's first skate plaza was constructed in 2005 in Kettering, Ohio. It covers 42,000 square feet and features 29,000 square feet of skateable terrain.

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It's a skater's dream.

"That was the inspiration for the kids to start the project here," said Nate Dorr of Bemidji.

Now, the company that designed the DC Skate Park in Kettering - the SITE Design Group out of California - has been secured to design and construct the Bemidji skate park.

The local park, which will be built next summer in Bemidji City Park, is planned to cover 22,000 square feet.

Once complete, the free park will offer a mix of street plaza - real urban architecture such as railings and benches - and traditional skate park features such as bowls and pipes.

Dorr, an adult volunteer working to raise money and support for the project, said the two ideas will facilitate a better skating experience.

"The plaza stuff is good for one or two tricks, but if we can link transitions in, you can keep the flow going throughout the park," Dorr said.

Skaters could spend three minutes or longer during one run of the park, he noted.

SITE has constructed more than 200 skate facilities throughout the world, according to its Web site at sitedesigngroup.com.

It has begun a project in Duluth, Minn., which is planned to be a three-phase project. The first phase, a 5,700-square foot park, is now open.

"We'll have their first world class skate park in Minnesota," Dorr said.

The project has been championed through the Bemidji Youth Advisory Commission and Bemidji Skate & Bike Association in the past 18 months.

Fundraising for the project is continuing, although a bulk of the financing already is known.

The project is anticipated to cost $450,000. The city of Bemidji has dedicated $150,000 through its half-cent sales tax, the George W. Neilson Foundation has given $100,000, and the Tony Hawk Foundation contributed $25,000.

Still, $167,000 remains to be secured. Dorr noted that the group has applied one more "major" grant and expects to hear the result of its application later this summer.

A Paypal account has been created through the "Make the Difference Network" promoted by actress Jessica Biel and her father. The Web site at bemidjiskatepark.blogspot.com offers a button through which contributors may donate to the skate park effort via credit or debit card.

Additionally, the "Build It" T-shirts are still being sold for $15 each at No Comply on Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest near the Erbert's & Gerbert's sub shop.

Later this year, a concert series is planned for the fall, during which money will be raised for the skate park.

Dorr said the City Park project is going to be released for bids after Christmas, so supporters would like to have all money in hand by the holiday season.

SITE is planning a visit to Bemidji later this summer to tour the skate park site and meet with interested members of the public, Dorr said.

"They'll take input and hear, kind of, what we want," he said.

Then, SITE will work on a 3-D design and post it online so Bemidji area residents can log in to view the design and suggest changes.

bwesley@bemidjipioneer.com

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