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Kanten Russell, a professional skateboarder and lead skate park designer with SITE Design Group, works with a group of local skateboarders Tuesday as they brainstorm ideas for the Bemidji Skate Park. Pioneer Photo/Bethany Wesley

Bemidji Skate Park: Designing the dream facility

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Area skateboarders met Tuesday to offer their input on design for the Bemidji Skate Park.

Skateboarders broke into small groups to cut out examples and sketch designs into a mock-up of the area allowed for the Skate Park, which will be built into the renovated Bemidji City Park.

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Kanten Russell, a professional skateboarder and lead skate park designer with SITE Design Group, led the workshop, which was held Tuesday evening at the Bemidji Public Works Facility.

About 25 people attended the session, during which the majority of skateboarders said they would like to see the free Skate Park include more street plaza features - real urban architecture such as railings and benches - over more traditional skate park features such as bowls and pipes.

"I think you guys will really like what we come up with," Russell said.

In his presentation, Russell outlined multiple skate parks that SITE has designed and showed how each park can incorporate green elements, such as planters and trees, to not only break up the amount of concrete, but to showcase a large, more spread out park with more transitions.

While the Bemidji Skate Park will probably be built in phases - with Phase 1 covering perhaps about 12,000 square feet at a cost higher than $300,000 - Russell explained that the use of green elements will make the actual footprint of the park larger.

"Phase 1 may actually end up being a lot bigger," he said.

Participants broke into three small groups as they designed their hopes for the local Skate Park.

Russell said SITE will take those designs and interpret them into concept plans.

Those concept plans will be available for review online, and SITE will solicit local responses in about a month.

"The feedback you are going to give from those initial concepts is critical," Russell said, "so we know we're on the right track."

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