More than 20 new skate parks slated for Minneapolis

This week, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved plans for new skate parks around the city.

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein

Hailee Schievelbein

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein

Meg Bishop

Construction of a fully renovated skate park in the heart of downtown is set to begin later this year. 

On July 1, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved plans for a new and improved Elliot Skate Park, one of the most frequented skate parks in Minneapolis. There are currently six small public skate parks throughout the city.

“The existing skate park there, that has bolted-on ramps — temporary in nature. The new one will have in-ground, built-in ramps that will be a much more permanent fixture,” said Andrew Schilling, the design project manager of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. 

Members of the Elliot Park community advocated for the new Elliot Skate Park for many years. City of Skate, an organization made up of Minneapolis skateboarders and community members, has been pushing since 2013 for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to allow funding for better city skate parks. 

Familia Skateboard Shop, Cal Surf and 3rd Lair Skatepark and Skateshop are just a few of the local businesses that partnered with City of Skate to push for the new skate park plan. The city’s skate park agenda includes construction plans for 22 skate parks throughout the city.

Elliot Park is about to be the first downtown skate park Minneapolis has seen with sturdy and properly built structures. “In 2003, skaters of the area and I got Morris Park built — then Morris Park was redone, poorly. [Morris Park] also needs to be redone, just like Elliot,” said Samantha Kirk, a Minneapolis skateboarder since 1998. 

The majority of the city’s skate parks house ramps that are meant to be temporary.

“City of Skate hopes we have come to a point where the commissioners and superintendent now value skateboarding as much as all the other recreational activities that take place in the parks,” said Paul Forsline, founding member of City of Skate. Forsline became involved in the Minneapolis skate community through his kids who skateboard.

Community skateboarders, along with City of Skate, began attending city planning meetings whenever skate parks were on the docket. Last year, City of Skate went to the Minnesota State Capital to meet with Governor Tim Walz and petitioned to initiate a statewide skate park grant program. 

The new skate park first found funding through the city’s park dedication fees. Any structure built within the city has to pay construction fees that are then used to fund future community improvement projects. 

“Elliot Park neighborhood has a ton of park dedication fees because it’s downtown where all these office and apartment buildings have gone in,” Forsline said. 

City of Skate went directly to the Elliot Park Board to ask if it would help cover the park’s construction fees, and the board took up the opportunity.

The organization then saw groups from all over begin to help fund the new skate park. Hennepin County’s youth sports grant was awarded to City of Skate for Elliot Skate Park last year. The X Games gave a grant to help move forward with the park’s design process. A local architecture firm offered — pro bono — to help with construction planning. 

Landscaping surrounding the skate park is one of the bigger changes Elliot Park will see. Ten new trees, multiple lighting fixtures and a water garden are planned to surround the park.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board anticipates Elliot Skate Park construction to begin late this summer and extend into 2021.

“We’re hoping that this is a good first example,” Forsline said. “People will see this project when it’s completed and say, ‘Yes, we want the rest of these parks done.’”