The city is hoping to raise $100,000 or more to improve its skate park, and it's getting help on the design from the experts -- the people who use the park.
The folks at the Burnsville Recreation Department had a radical idea when they found themselves with a possible $70,000 to fix up the city's free skateboard park:
Ask the kids, the teenagers and adults who use the park what improvements they would like to see.
Among the suggestions coming out of two meetings in June: A concrete skating surface instead of asphalt, a six-foot bowl for practicing aerial stunts, break areas with shade, a drinking fountain, spectator areas and grills for cooking.
Almost two dozen skaters showed up on Tuesday night to meet with recreation officials to talk about the future of the skate park, one of several in the south metro.
The consensus seemed to be that the size of the park doesn't matter -- the most important thing is creating a unique space that will draw skaters from all over the Twin Cities.
"I think that it's more important to have something unique that will actually draw skaters in than to have this multitude of stuff," said Olaf Gilbertson, a Burnsville resident who lives two blocks from the park and skates there once or twice a week.
Dean Mulso, Burnsville's recreation facilities manager, said the city does not know how much it will cost but that it could be $100,000 or more to make the improvements at the skate park in the next two or three years.
"Whether they pan out or not, we don't know," Mulso said last week. "We're going to have to depend on the users to make this happen."
At the moment, the $70,000 the city has earmarked for improvements is aimed at resurfacing the existing park and doing maintenance on the ramps and other structures.
The city is hoping to leverage the money through grants or corporate sponsorships into the bulk of what it will need for the improvements. The city also wants the skaters to get involved in the fundraising.
One of the probable outcomes is that the size of the park would be cut, from about 18,000 square feet to about 11,000 square feet.
That change came about as a result of talking to the dozens of kids who use the facilities.
"They are not concerned about the size," Mulso said. "To them, it's all about skateability and flow."
A city attraction?
The park opened more than 10 years ago as a Tier II park, for more experienced skaters. But that proved to be a money loser, so the city turned it into a beginner or Tier I park, making it quite popular with kids, especially beginners and those under 13, Mulso said.
The possible changes to the facility, including taking away the chain link fence that surrounds it, are intended to make the place more attractive to skaters in the city.
"Our goal and hope is that we can develop a great state park here in Burnsville," Mulso said before the meeting.
On Tuesday, he and other recreation officials got plenty of advice on how to accomplish that goal from more than 20 skaters ranging in age from about 10 years old to adults in their mid-30s.
"This could be a very big thing," said Travis Milberger, another skater. "Once you build it, people will come, especially if you build it right."
One popular sentiment was to create viewing stands and a grilling area to allow non-skaters to hang out at the park, turning the facility into more of a community asset.
"It should be a park for everybody in the community," said Alex De Marco. "We want to be a part of the community."
Heron Marquez • 952-707-9994