Robbinsdale’s Graeser Park Could be Closer to City Ownership
Volunteers continue to landscape Graeser Park, which was built in 1939 as a roadside park on Highway 100. Over the years, dirt and plants grew over the rock structures and pathways. Volunteers have been instrumental in clearing away debris in the historic park and drawing attention to it.
“I think that the volunteer groups over the years have done a really excellent job in Robbinsdale,” said city manager Marcia Glick. “We haven’t seen anything that has been done other than just clearing away debris.”
Graeser Park has a history in Robbinsdale dating back more than 80 years. It features one of only two WPA-built ‘beehive fireplaces’ in the U.S and is the only beehive in its original location.
Currently MNDoT owns the right of way to the property, but they don’t own the property. However, because the right of way supersedes any other uses for the property, they effectively have full control over it.
Glick says the city has indicated interest in owning the land going back to the 1990s.
“Robbinsdale has been trying to get title to the property, MNDoT clearly isn’t using that property for right of way. We just need to acquire the fee title to the property underneath the easement. When that happens, then it’ll be turned over to the city for park when that happens,” said Glick.
Transferring the legal paperwork is not as easy as you would think.
“MNDoT has attempted a couple of times to transfer the property to Robbinsdale,” said Andrea Weber, who is MNDoT program manager for historic roadside projects. “Both of those times it’s just kind of gotten stuck.”
Robbinsdale started work to get the title back when Highway 100 was finished.
“Then the light rail project came along. And the light rail project would have paid all of the costs of getting access to the fee title of the land,” said Glick.
The city and MNDoT says they will continue working through the process.
“We have most of the documentation complete to do a transfer to release our easement over the land,” said Weber. “We want the volunteers who are working on this site to understand that we’re there to help and facilitate this. And we want to try to help them to accomplish what they’d like to do with the park. I think we share similar goals ultimately.”
A solution could be a community highway sponsorship program.
“It’s really an adopt a highway type of program,” explains Glick. “But in the case of Robbinsdale, Graeser Park is also highway right of way and so we are starting to meet with MNDoT as that of a possibility.”