Back to the May-Jun 2024 issue

Lonsdale’s New Skate Park Exceeds Expectations in Its First Year

By Heather Rule

Lonsdale’s skate park hasn’t even been up and running for a full spring-summer season yet, but it’s already a popular spot.

“The skate park has been used way more than I think anyone anticipated,” said Lonsdale City Administrator Joel Erickson. “Certainly me. It’s the word ‘skate park,’ so you immediately focus on skateboards, right? Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The skate park is located within Sticha Park and sees plenty of activity from users with bikes, scooters, and skateboards. Photo courtesy of the City of Lonsdale

Lonsdale’s first skate park is located within the already established Sticha Park and sees plenty of activity from users with bikes, scooters, and skateboards. Kids of various ages — and their families — use the park, Erickson said.

The city officially welcomed the skate park to Lonsdale with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 8, 2023. Since its opening, Erickson has been pleased with how much enthusiasm it has generated and the positive impacts it’s having on the community.

“My wife works at the middle school here, and she tells me she hears her kids all the time talking about it,” Erickson said. “It’s definitely been … a huge success.”

The benefits of the skate park have proved to more than outweigh any concerns residents had before its development, Erickson said. To help be proactive, the park has a list of rules and regulations, and can only be used until dusk since the city is not planning to light the skate park.

A long time coming

This project was a long time coming, especially for generations of preteens and teenage residents. Different groups of kids cycled multiple petitions at various points during the past decade, getting resident signatures that they then brought to either City Hall or park board meetings to see if a skate park could happen in Lonsdale.

But the cost of the park wasn’t always feasible for the project to move forward. Until the summer of 2022, when Shakopee put its skate park equipment up for auction. Lonsdale was the successful bidder, getting the equipment for less than $1,000. Lonsdale’s Public Works Department used their vehicles to disassemble and transport the equipment to Lonsdale, storing it in a vacant lot.

Lonsdale Public Works Director Joe Dornfeld and his team of seven inspected and evaluated each skate park piece and then rebuilt all of the park’s obstacles in late winter and early spring 2023. They worked on one piece at a time, getting some work done during the few down days of a busy snow season.

“We’d bring it in here, and if there was rotten lumber or if the skate surface or rails or whatever needed to be replaced, we would fix up these pieces one by one,” Dornfeld said.

That spring, the city moved forward with bids for the dirt work and concrete pad for the skate park; the concrete pad was constructed in early summer 2023. Once the concrete was ready, public works crews transported all the skate park obstacles to the area and set them up, laying it out in a similar way to what Shakopee had done, Dornfeld said.

The skate park is about 1,000 feet to the west of the public works shop, and Dornfeld and his crew “were blown away” at the skate park’s popularity.

“We thought it would get used but had no idea … there’s 20 kids there every night,” Dornfeld said. “It’s exceeded expectations as far as usage.”

Project costs, savings incurred

Getting the skate park equipment through auction helped Lonsdale save a lot of money on the project. The cost was around $220,000, with about $160,000 of that going toward the 90-by-130-foot concrete pad (11,700 total square feet), and around $53,000 spent on the obstacles and their repairs. According to Erickson’s online research, the average skate park costs about $55,000 per square foot. So, a skate park with even a 10,000-square-foot pad would bring the cost for that skate park to $550,000.

“So, we’re into it for less than half,” Erickson said. “Which I think is awesome. At half the cost, this is nothing less than a home run.”

Getting the equipment via auction paid off. To cover the rest of the project costs, Lonsdale used some funds from its municipal liquor store, along with some city-budgeted money, and some American Rescue Plan Act funds. There wasn’t a lot of interaction between Lonsdale and Shakopee for this project, with the equipment coming through the auction. But Erickson said the Shakopee staff was great to work with and was always willing to provide information or answer questions about the skate park equipment.

“It was really kind of copy, cut, and paste for us,” Dornfeld said. “Shakopee had it all set up … It was pretty straight forward.”

Heather Rule is a freelance writer.