New playground, sport court at South Shore Park already a big hit with Detroit Lakes residents

Detroit Lakes' South Shore Park officially unveiled its new playground and sport court at a ribbon cutting ceremony held Wednesday, June 15

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The climbing ropes in the new playground at Detroit Lakes' South Shore Park were a popular destination for visitors following a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the park on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

DETROIT LAKES — A project that has been more than a year in the making, the new playground and sport court at Detroit Lakes' South Shore Park made its public debut at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Wednesday, June 18.

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A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new playground and sport court at Detroit Lakes' South Shore Park was held on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
Contributed / Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce

"A park in the southern part of Detroit Lakes has been a long-term goal of the Park Board and City Council," said Mayor Matt Brenk in his welcoming remarks. "Today we are thankful 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 food preparation area and tables, restrooms, multi-use sport courts, an inclusive playground with rubberized surface, pollinator-friendly trees and plantings, and "ample, open green space," Brenk said.

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Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk spoke during a ribbon cutting ceremony held at Detroit Lakes' South Shore Park on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
Contributed / Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce

Originally, the park included 3.2 acres that were dedicated through the development of the Lake Forest subdivision, which required the inclusion of park space as part of the city's platting process. In 2018, an additional two acres was purchased from the Lake Forest subdivision developers, Mary and Marty Solmon, utilizing previously collected park dedication fees.

The development of the $1,045,800 park project was funded by various sources, Brenk noted, including:


  • $353,800 in park dedication fees;
  • $13,000 in food and beverage tax funds;
  • $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 city park equipment funds
  • $313,900 in private donations, far surpassing the original fundraising goal of $210,000.

"Development of this park is a great example of a public/private partnership," Brenk said, "where private funds help leverage city, state and federal dollars to build a great facility. Detroit Lakes has a long history of community spirit and stewardship, 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 all those who volunteered to help do the plantings.

"Like 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 along with Beth Pridday, co-chaired the fundraising committee for the project in addition to chairing the Detroit Lakes Park Board during its completion over the past year.

"Obviously, the amenities in this park could not have been completed without the generosity of the many organizations, companies and individuals who answered the call and donated to the project," Skoyles added.

"Personally, I want to thank past Park Board Chair Marcus Lacher for his tenacity and his commitment to the development of a park on the south side of the lake," she continued. "Former Public Works Director Brad Green served as a persistent bird dog and made strategic planning — and sticking to that plan — the focus of our work on the Park Board during his tenure.

"Thanks too to (former City Alderman) Dan Wenner for facilitating our strategic planning for so many years and helping us keep our vision on track. We wouldn't be hanging out enjoying this space without that focus."

Skoyles went on to thank many city employees, past and present, 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, as well as the Friends of South Shore Park fundraising committee.

"It is always amazing to see the fruit of cooperative efforts such as this one. Thank you to each and every one who contributed to making South Shore Park a reality. Together we can create these wonderful public spaces — I hope you enjoy what has been created here."

Playground already in use

Though it wasn't officially unveiled to the public until Wednesday's ceremony, the new playground at South Shore Park has already been getting a lot of attention from local residents.


"It's been open for a while," said Detroit Lakes Public Works Director Shawn King after Wednesday's ribbon cutting ceremony, as he was serving up some cookies and bottled water for the 100-plus local residents who showed up for the occasion.

"There's been a lot of use already," noted Dr. Bill Henke, one of the local residents who attended the ceremony.

There were dozens of kids — and adults — trying out the equipment after Wednesday's festivities as well.

One of the things that has not been well-used, however, is the restroom facilities inside the park shelter: King noted that while they were open for Wednesday's festivities, the city has had to keep them locked most of the time as they await installation of security cameras in an attempt to prevent vandalism.

"Once the cameras are installed, they'll be open 24/7," said King, adding that all the wiring is in place, they just have to wait for the cameras themselves to arrive. "They've been ordered; I'm hoping they'll be up and running in the next couple of months."

Until then, however, portable toilet facilities will be made available for park users.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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