Fundraising for the sharply increased budget for the Lauridsen Skatepark is nearly complete and got a boost with a $500,000 state grant this week, Polk County Supervisor Angela Connolly said today. 

The project now is expected to cost $6.1 million due to added work to stabilize the site near the Des Moines River downtown near Wells Fargo Arena, an increase in skating area to make the park the nation’s biggest, and the addition of a spectator gallery in the area closest to Second Avenue, Connolly added. The original figure was $3.5 million, when Nix and Virginia Lauridsen gave a lead gift of $1 million. The tab is up by just shy of 75%. 

“The site is difficult,” Connolly said. “We also had to move utilities.” Workers reinforced some of the slope near the park with steel. 

The spectator area will include benches made to resemble skateboards, other seating and a switchback path leading down to the skating area. The area will be accessible to those using wheelchairs, she added. 

Connolly said backers were thrilled to get the $500,000 Community Attraction and Tourism grant, despite the fact that they originally asked for $1 million. Backers had taken teens and other supporters of the park to Bettendorf for a state board meeting last month to pitch the grant idea. 

News on added donations will be coming soon, and fundraising is nearly complete, she added. California Skateparks, an industry leader, designed the park. At 88,000 square feet of skateable area, the course will beat Houston by 10,000 square feet. 

Polk County is managing project construction, which is well underway. Connolly said there is still hope that at least a run or two of the skatepark’s course will be open this fall.