DETROIT LAKES – Detroit Lakes’ new playground and athletic field at South Shore Park, a project that has been in the works for more than a year, made its public debut at a dedication ceremony on Wednesday, June 18.
“A park in southern Detroit Lakes has been a long-term goal of the Park Board and City Council,” Mayor Matt Brenk said in his welcome address. “Today we are grateful to see it come to fruition as we dedicate our new South Shore Park.”
The 5-5 acre full-service regional park on the south shore of Detroit Lake includes off-street parking, a shelter with meal prep area and tables, restrooms, multi-use athletic fields, an inclusive playground with rubberized surface, pollinator-friendly trees and plantings, and “generous , open green spaces,” said Brenk.
Originally, the park comprised 3.2 acres dedicated through the development of the Lake Forest subdivision, which required the inclusion of park areas as part of the city’s plating process. In 2018, an additional two acres were purchased from Mary and Marty Solmon, developers of the Lake Forest subdivision, using previously collected park fees.
The development of the $1,045,800 park project was funded from a variety of sources, Brenk noted, including:
- $353,800 in parking fees;
- $13,000 in food and beverage taxpayer money;
- $190,000 from a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources outdoor recreation grant made possible by the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund;
- $50,000 in funds to equip the city park
- $313,900 in private donations, far exceeding the original fundraising goal of $210,000.
“The development of this park is a great example of a public-private partnership,” Brenk said, “where private funds help leverage city, state, and federal funds to build a great facility. Detroit Lakes has a long history of community spirit and responsibility, and this facility is another great example of that.”
Brenk also thanked the Pelican River Watershed District and the city’s Public Works Department for their work on the project, along with everyone who volunteered to help with the plantings.
“As Mayor Brenk said, it took the work of many people to make this park possible, and I, too, am grateful for their efforts,” said Karen Skoyles, who also co-chaired the project’s fundraising committee with Beth Pridday during chaired the Detroit Lakes Park Board upon its completion last year.
“Clearly, the facilities at this park could not have been completed without the generosity of the many organizations, companies and individuals who have answered the call and donated to the project,” added Skoyles.
“Personally, I’d like to thank former park chairman Marcus Lacher for his tenacity and dedication to developing a park on the south side of the lake,” she continued. “Former Public Works Director Brad Green served as a hardened bird dog, making strategic planning – and sticking to that plan – the focus of our work on the Park Board during his tenure.
“Thank you also to (former City Alderman) Dan Wenner, who has supported our strategic planning for so many years and helped us keep our vision on track. Without that focus, we wouldn’t be in this place.”
Skoyles thanked many past and present city employees for their efforts, as well as members of the “Pollinator Group” who helped plan and create an outdoor educational area and vegetation plan for the park, and the Friends of South Shore Park Fundraising Committee.
“It’s always amazing to see the fruits of collaborative efforts like this. Thank you to everyone who helped make South Shore Park a reality. Together we can create these wonderful public spaces – I hope you enjoy what has been created here.”
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Playground already in use
Although it was only officially unveiled to the public at Wednesday’s ceremony, the new playground at South Shore Park has already attracted a lot of attention from local residents.
“It’s been open for a while,” said Shawn King, Detroit Lakes director of public works, after Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, as he served cookies and bottled water to the more than 100 local residents who showed up for the occasion.
“It’s already been used a lot,” noted Dr. Bill Henke, one of the local residents who attended the ceremony.
There were dozens of kids – and adults – trying out the gear even after Wednesday’s celebrations.
One of the things that hasn’t been put to good use, however, are the restroom facilities at the park shelter: King noted that although they were open for Wednesday’s celebrations, the city had to keep them locked most of the time while they awaited the installation of Surveillance cameras to prevent vandalism.
“Once the cameras are installed, they will be open 24/7,” King said, adding that all the wiring is in place, they just have to wait for the cameras themselves to arrive. “They have been ordered; I hope that they will be operational within the next few months.”
Until then, however, mobile toilet facilities will be made available to park users.