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The rendering above, courtesy SITE Design Group, is the first draft of the design for the Bemidji Skate Park, which will be relocated in Bemidji City Park. Submitted Image

Funds to determine skate park construction

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

If the Bemidji Skate Park is to be built all at once - and not in phases - supporters need to raise about $150,000 more very quickly.

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SITE Design Group out of California is designing the skate park, which will be located in Bemidji City Park, which is now undergoing renovations.

SITE released the first versions of its design last month. They are online at www.sitedesigngroup.com, but visitors will need to log in. The login is "Bemidji" and the password is "skate."

The skate park now is planned to be constructed in two phases due to its cost.

The first phase would be the street plaza portion that will feature banks (rounded inclines along), China walls (steep, sharper inclines) and stairs (a five-step staircase with a railing).

The banks and walls run alongside the staircase; the park offers options.

"It does have good flow, which means you wouldn't have to push a lot," said Nate Dorr, an adult volunteer who has been working with the Bemidji Skate & Bike Association to raise funds toward the skate park project.

The second phase would include a bowl and a "snake run," which is a narrower, curvy route that would link the bowl to the plaza portion of the park.

The bowl, thanks to Dorr's appeal to the League of Minnesota Cities, will be allowed to drop to 6 feet in depth, but also will feature a shallower depth for less experienced skateboarders.

Dorr hopes that the bowl can be fully enclosed. Now the bowl is about three-fourths closed, because it would cost more to close it completely.

"(Bowls) are the most expensive part," Dorr said, noting that they're also not too common because of that.

Dorr explained that there are not too many local skateboard have been exposed to skate park features (bowls, snake runs, etc.) and are more accustomed to skate plazas with street-like features.

"This will be the first bowl between Fargo, Duluth, Minneapolis and Winnipeg," Dorr said.

Featured heavily in SITE's designs are green spaces.

The green spaces are set along ridges at different heights, offering views looking down at the skate park.

It is expected that people, particularly youth, may want to watch the action without actually taking part in the skating.

"I like how there are green spaces for people who want to see and not be in the way," Dorr said.

Funds still needed

The efforts of skate park supporters throughout the last two years have raised $314,000.

SITE has designed a park that will cost about $500,000 to complete, with the first phase costing about $340,000.

"We need to figure out how to close that gap," Dorr said.

There are options available, he noted.

Dorr plans to meet this week with Marcia Larson, the Bemidji parks and recreation director, and next week will meet with the city's Parks and Trails Commission.

The project has been listed in the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy through the Headwaters Regional Development Commission.

The CEDS, updated every three years, is intended to serve as a guide for the region's economic development activities, according to the HRDC.

The skate park, Dorr said, was included as a "quality of life" project.

"That opens up some doors for federal money," he said.

To donate, write to the Bemidji Skate & Bike Association, P.O. Box 662, Bemidji, MN 56619.

To read more about the skate park project, go online to bemidjiskatepark.blogspot.com.

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