Detroit Mountain was a family owned alpine ski operation for over 50 years. Shortly after it closed in 2004, local community members began discussing how the mountain could be revitalized into a year-round recreational facility. With support from the local community and beyond, Detroit Mountain opened in the Winter of 2014. “People give a lot, whether it’s time, money or both,” reflects Kelcey Klemm, City Administrator. “Detroit mountain was basically done through donations.” The mountain features an all new terrain park, tubing hill, cross country ski trails along with biking trails that host all levels of mountain bike enthusiasts. Educational programming aims to help develop the health and wellness of children, families and the community. To provide equal access to all users, the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area developed a scholarship program for individuals and families who need assistance.

Detroit Mountain Recreation Area

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota


Photo credit: https://detroitmountain.com/lessons/

Walk, Work n’ Play is a community program designed to encourage residents, employees, and visitors to get outside and make the most of the walking paths and sidewalks in their community. “We try to provide those amenities that make it attractive to live here, so it is a lot of park space, and a lot of recreational options,” explains Mayor Matt Brenk. The project is supported by the Community Wellness Grant from the Minnesota Department of Health and is operated by PartnerSHIP 4 Health, a collaboration of community and public health partners in Becker, Clay, Otter Tail, and Wilkin Counties. The organization works to prevent chronic disease through sustainable changes that increase physical activity, healthy eating, and reduce tobacco use and exposure. Walkable communities reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, support health and well-being, and boost economic development.

Walk, Work, n’ Play

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota


Photo credit: http://partnership4health.org/resources-active-living/

With a full spectrum of senior living opportunities on the Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinic campus in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, Lincoln Park offers 30 independent living apartments for residents over age 62. Situated under sprawling oaks and adjacent to the shopping, dining and entertainment of a bustling downtown, this facility is designed for carefree living that’s close to healthcare.

Essentia Health-Lincoln Park Senior Apartments

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota


Photo credit: Tara Ekren of Essentia Health

Detroit Lakes opened its first dog park in 2017, adding to the city’s park and trail system. For the 40.8% of the population who are renters, 8% who are minorities, the city’s public spaces become their backyard (ACS 2012-2016). By adding more amenities, like a dog park, to the city’s park and trail system, Detroit Lakes is making the community more renter-friendly.

The Detroit Lakes region is known for its mile-long, sugar-sand city beach with adjacent shaded City Park. Guests can enjoy the public playgrounds, picnic shelters and bandshell with scheduled family-friendly performances. The accessible fishing pier on the beach provides fishing access to everyone. The city’s Recreational Center and Washington Ball Park is located directly across from the beach for visitors to access both the facilities and the water within steps. Maintaining public access to lakefront property with high market-rate value requires commitment. As Kelcey Klemm, City Administrator, states, the city is glad it has committed this land to the public: “It’s just free space that everybody can use.” For more on the health benefits of green space see this USDA report.

Detroit Lakes’ population has increased by 5.9% since 2010 and most of the land has already been developed. Through the comprehensive planning process, the city is working to find areas of opportunity for high density multifamily development. According to Mayor Matt Brenk, “We’ve got to provide those lower cost housing options.” The areas of opportunity for affordable, multifamily development are often on the peripheral of a zone, the battleground of zoning and where community pushback is one of the greatest challenges. “We’re literally running out of places… we’re going to update the land-use plan to start trying to identify areas that we feel are going to be a future high density.” By doing this early, the city has time to properly engage residents and build support for this new housing typology.