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Great Bear Gets Approval For Expansion

December 18, 2013, 6:08 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Great Bear Gets Approval For Expansion

While the warmer temps Wednesday melted some of the snow on the roads, there is still plenty at Great Bear Recreation Park in Sioux Falls.

The staff at Great Bear is celebrating a big step towards expanding the popular slopes.

"Our last expansion was in 2000. Back then we were seeing 22,000 visits a year. Last year, we did 43,000," General Manager Dan Grider said. 

With numbers like these, and still growing each year, Grider thought it was about time for another expansion, starting with the tubing hills.

"Right now, we only have four lanes available. We'd like to double that to eight. As well, we'd like to a more efficient lift in, to transport people up the hill, to eliminate some of the lines on busy days," Grider said. 

The staff at Great Bear began working on a new layout for the hills about 18 months ago. Tuesday night, they presented the master plan to the city parks board and received overwhelming approval.

Now they begin the project design phase, with construction hopefully beginning in the spring.

"What we'll need to do is re-grade the tubing hill. If you've been out here before you'll notice that the lanes change in levels of steepness. And we want to make them all the same slope. It allows for more efficient snow making, allows us to add more lanes by getting rid of the wasted space between lanes with different elevations," Grider said. 

Grider says as more people continue to make Great Bear a popular attraction, it will continue making improvements.

"We're very excited about this. The season has started off great. We've got snow on the ground. Christmas break starts today for the kids. So this is a great time to be at Great Bear," Grider said. 

Grider says other projects they are looking at for the future include expanding the chalet, creating more runs and replacing the existing chair lift.

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