Gary-New Duluth Skatepark Nears Funding Goal – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — The prospects for a new state-of-the-art skate park opening in Gary-New Duluth next year continue to improve as the city accepted $250,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funding from St. Louis County last week.

The St. Louis County Board of Commissioners approved support for the project back in April, but funds from the American Rescue Plan Act have only just begun to flow.

A recent resolution passed by the Duluth City Council stated, “In partnership with the GND Development Alliance, the city intends to apply for additional competitive grant funding to build the skate park, and the funds from St. Louis County will serve as important local match dollars.” to serve .”

Mark Boben, board member of the GND Development Alliance, said the $1.4 million project is now only about $250,000 from full funding and confirmed that more funding applications are in the works.

“So we’re definitely using this and other grants and fundraisers that we’re doing right now to hopefully get us over the hill and finish this skate park next year,” he said.

Partially built skate park.
Traffic on Commonwealth Avenue passes Gary-New Duluth Skate Park.

Steve Kuchera/Duluth News Tribune

Construction of the skate park at Gary-New Duluth Rec Center adjacent to Stowe Elementary School, off Commonwealth Avenue, began in 2019 with debris and drainage work and has progressed with walling and site preparation.

“Now we have to do some foundation work. But the reality is it’s about raising the money,” Boben said, noting that inflation has made things even more complicated.

“Cost is a kind of moving target. So what we want to do is raise enough funds to have a sufficient reserve to cover the unknowns. That’s just good project management no matter what you’re building,” he said.

In October, the City Council agreed to allocate $40,000 from local tourism tax revenue to the project.

“We definitely need more funding,” Boben said. “We have to be successful with the funding applications we submit. And we need the public to support us with some donations.”

The ambitious plans for the skate park required a long effort.

Still, Boben said, “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll make it next year. We’re getting closer.”

He noted that the GND Rec Center recently received a $50,000 donation from Maurices and the board has decided to name the center’s athletic field after the retail chain in recognition of the generous gift.

“Concrete skate parks are expensive. Without doubt. But there will be nothing like it north of the Twin Cities. It’s going to be a regional tie when we’re done with that,” Boben said.

It therefore makes sense to use the income from the tourism tax to support the skate park.

“Skateboarders are like snowboarders. They’re going to drive across the country to go snowboarding. Skateboarders are like that,” said Boben. The park was designed by nationally recognized skate park designer Mark Leski, nicknamed “The Wizard” in skateboarding circles.

He anticipates that the skatepark will appeal to skateboarders of all ages, noting that Tony Hawk, one of the figures who did most to popularize the sport, is still active at age 54.

Architectural representation of a skate park.
An architectural rendering shows the skate park under construction in the Gary-New Duluth recreation area.

Post / Gary-New Duluth Development Alliance

Boben noted that there are relatively few barriers to entry in skateboarding and many people start out with cheap used boards. He said the skate park will be fee-free, lighted and have cameras to ensure it remains a safe environment. It is also on a bus route, providing affordable and convenient access for people from across the community.

Even residents of the Heritage Apartments retirement community across the street are excited about the project, excited at the prospect of seeing more young people actively enjoying the park, Boben said.

“They want to come and see all the fun,” he said.


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