Mitchell skate park expansion plan clears final hurdle

Goal is for new park to open in mid-2021

Justin Buckingham skates at the Dry Run Creek Skate Park last week in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Local skateboarders' dreams of upgrades to the Dry Run Creek Skate Park have become a reality much sooner than expected.

After the Mitchell City Council recently approved to fund the remaining costs of the $123,000 skate park expansion plan that was proposed less than two years ago, skaters and BMX bikers will have an opportunity to test out the new features in the summer of 2021. The expansion will feature a concrete bowl similar to an empty pool, along with a street course that includes a stair set, grinding ledges and a handrail. The concrete skate bowl will be a first for the community.

For Justin Buckingham, an avid local skater, the expansion project is a dream come true. Buckingham has been utilizing the existing features at the skate park for the past decade, but he said the lack of a skate bowl has restricted him from that style of skateboarding, which is popular on the West Coast, where concrete skate bowls and pools are at nearly every local skate park.

"The bowl is gonna become my new home. Our park as of now has little to no flow, with the street section and fun box there are endless amounts of line to be done," Buckingham said.

The expansion will add 2,800 square feet of concrete to the existing skate park. American Ramp Company, a company based out of Missouri, will be constructing the improvements, which is expected to begin in the spring and wrap up in June 2021.


Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell led the charge to expand Mitchell's skate park roughly two years ago when he called on local skaters to pitch their ideas and suggestions for adding onto the park. Following a public input session that attracted several local skaters who brought their ideas forward, Powell and the skaters began fundraising, raising $22,000 from businesses, private donors and community organizations.

But it was the state's $53,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund that provided the biggest fundraising boost for the skate park expansion, which brought the total amount of funds raised to roughly $75,000. That meant the City Council had to pitch in about $47,000 to meet the total cost of the expansion, which they did in September during city budget hearings.

"I am very proud that our council and Parks and Recreation Board members supported this, because it is a place that is used often," Powell said. "The park has needed more space and obstacles for a while now, so it's great we are able to m ake that happen now."

Powell highlighted the decision to expand with concrete instead of wood or steel ramps like the skate park currently has will add a much longer life span to the skate park, especially with winter weather taking its toll on the park.

"Concrete lasts so much longer, and it is also a smoother surface for riding. The design will also be accessible for all levels of experience, which is always a goal for recreation activities to promote more participation," he said.

Concrete skate bowls are relatively rare in communities around South Dakota. There are a few on South Dakota's Native American reservations and the city of Sioux Falls is fundraising for a multi-million dollar concrete skate park that would include a concrete bowl.

As Buckingham and local skaters await the new improvements, they will have something special to look forward to in the midst of winter.

"I've never had the opportunity to skate the kind of things that are being drawn up, so progression is inevitable," Buckingham said of the new skate park design.


Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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