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Vicki Gerdes, Forum News Service, Published July 05 2013

Funding campaign for ski hill starting

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Proponents of the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area project are poised to launch a public fundraising campaign to revitalize the former ski hill.

Thursday, Detroit Mountain organizers will be hosting a public event at Zorbaz restaurant with group Vice President Mark Fritz giving an update on the project’s progress.

The Detroit Mountain group formed in 2010 as a group of businesspeople in the area interested in reopening the ski hill, which operated from 1958-2004 under private ownership.

But the group also envisioned more than just downhill skiing: A feasibility study for the property included cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tubing, a terrain park, camping, biking and hiking opportunities.

“It is our vision to have a four-season recreation area on Detroit Mountain,” Fritz said.

The nonprofit organization has moved ahead with the purchase of the 200-acre Detroit Mountain ski area site, and launched a silent fundraising campaign as a first step toward raising money for development of the regional park.

Part of the reason why the fundraising project began as a “silent” campaign was to determine how much support there was from around the region, Fritz noted.

“This isn’t just a Detroit Lakes thing, it’s a regional attraction,” he said. “We’ve been very happy with the support and enthusiasm we’ve received. Now, it’s time to open this up to a wider audience.”

If it reopened, Detroit Mountain would be the closest ski hill to the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The Detroit Mountain effort experienced the setback of being turned down for a Department of Natural Resources Parks & Trails Grant early this year. But the group says several goals have been accomplished, including the selection of an architectural firm to design a four-season recreational lodge with amenities including a cafeteria, Wi-Fi access, equipment rentals and more.

The campaign launch will begin inside Zorbaz at 6 p.m. Thursday, with Fritz’s presentation set to take place at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, log on to www.detroit

mountain.com or take a look at the “Bring Back Detroit Mountain” Facebook page.

The Becker County Board last week approved a conditional use permit for The Mountain Recreation Area, contingent on the group working out traffic issues.

Had the conditional use permit been denied, the project would have lost $1.3 million in federal tax credits from the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corp.