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Kyle Potter, Published September 20 2013

Detroit Mountain aiming to reopen in winter 2014

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Those behind reopening Detroit Mountain say they’re confident there will be skiing in the region again by winter 2014 – 10 years since the old ski hill closed.

The Detroit Mountain Recreation Area has already broken ground on a new rustic-yet-modern chalet, and the group is just $500,000 shy of its fundraising goal to pay for the $7.5 million project.

“Since it closed, our community has really seen a void,” said board member and lead fundraiser Mark Fritz.

But with the nearest ski hills at least 80 miles away from the Fargo-Moorhead metro area, Fritz stressed that the revamped Detroit Mountain will attract the entire region – not just Detroit Lakes residents.

The group’s plans call for two new overhead chair lifts, a tubing hill and an expansive terrain park filled with jumps and rails for the more adventurous skiers and snowboarders. The mountain will also have a bunny hill to break in learners and trails for cross-country skiing.

It won’t be just a winter destination, but home to a network of winding and challenging mountain biking trails in the summer and fall.

It will be a place to teach kids how to ski, go tubing or cross-country skiing.

“There’s nothing like it in the region,” said Steve Scheel, CEO of Scheels All Sports and a project backer.

The old Detroit Mountain opened in 1958 and closed in 2004 after an accident forced the uninsured owners to sell off assets.

The project is being funded largely through public fundraising, though the city of Detroit Lakes is kicking in $300,000, and Detroit Mountain Recreation Area received about $1.2 million in New Market Tax Credits, a federal tax credit designed to spur business investment in low-income communities.

Once complete, Detroit Lake will own the land and property. DMRA will operate the ski hill. From day one, Fritz said their No. 1 priority will be their guests.

“This is going to put the Detroit Lakes-area on the map and give all these people in Fargo … a reason to go there year-round,” Scheel said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502