MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program has committed resources to provide repairs and cleanup for this historic Lilac Way park in summer 2021.
New MnDOT maintenance project will precede title transfer to City of Robbinsdale.
After speaking with park supporters and seeing community enthusiasm, Historic Roadside Property Program (HRPP) Manager Andrea Weber dedicated funding to improve Robbinsdale’s Graeser Park before the land transfers to the City. MnDOT currently owns the right-of-way for this park.
Exception was made for Lilac Way parks.
MnDOT’s HRPP prioritizes funding for parks on the National Register of Historic Places. Even though Graeser Park is not on the Register, Andrea allocated resources to help. (Due to major changes, Graeser Park will never be eligible for the register.) We are so grateful to Andrea for her efforts.
MnDOT’S proposed scope of work for Graeser Park in summer 2021
According to its website, MnDOT’s plans include:
- Stone masonry repair or stabilization at the overlook wall, “beehive” fireplace, and rock garden trail at the east end of the rock garden and as needed where stones are loose
- Replacement of disassembled stone picnic tables and benches from existing salvaged materials
- Vegetation removals including trees impacting rock garden and invasive shrub removal
- Interpretive sign
- Potential volunteer involvement with new plantings
View MnDOT’s Oct. 24th, 2020 presentation to key Graeser Park supporters. PDF file of 16-slide deck.
MnDOT will reinstall original stone picnic tables and benches!
After Lilac Way parks were dismantled in the early 2000s, MnDOT put salvageable materials in storage. Robbinsdale acquired those materials in 2008. MnDOT will now use salvaged stone to return tables to Graeser Park.
How many tables will be installed in Graeser Park?
We really won’t know that until MnDOT reviews the salvaged materials.
Successful application to MnDOT’s Highway Sponsorship Program would allow continued volunteer cleanup.
Before volunteers can continue to work in Graeser Park, an application must be approved for MnDOT’s Highway Sponsorship Program.
We are grateful that the Robbinsdale Lions Club will apply to MnDOT’s program. If approved, they will continue their stewardship of Graeser Park in 2021.
Title transfer update
MnDOT currently owns an easement over the property giving them full control of the land. Underlying the easement there are multiple private property owners from the 1930s.
The City of Robbinsdale will work on acquiring the “fee title” to these parcels. Once they have the title, MnDOT will convey the easement (excluding the new stormwater pond area) to the City of Robbinsdale.
Why is this happening now?
Andrea Weber, licensed Landscape Architect, has been Manager of MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program since 2018. This program leads the management, protection and preservation of properties with historic features and which are historic designed landscapes along highways within MnDOT right-of-way.
Andrea stated this new Graeser Park maintenance project intends to fulfill earlier MnDOT promises to replace what had been removed from the park. She loves the history of Lilac Way parks designed by Arthur Nichols, saying they remind her of Chinese gardens and old English grottos.
She noted that she’s thankful to the Robbinsdale Lions Club, Restore Lilac Way, Robbinsdale Historical Society and all the volunteers for keeping Graeser Park in the public eye so it is not forgotten. She has also planned cleanup in St. Louis Park’s Rock Island.
The Historic Roadside Property Program uses the Secretary of Interior Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties. These standards are common-sense historic preservation principles that promote best practices.