Newspaper June 17, 2004 | Sun Newspapers (St. Paul, MN)
Author: Kelly Vilson | Section: News
Sun Newspapers Intern
As he advanced through the Boy Scout ranks with only one level left to attain, Eagle Scout, Graeser Park was on McFerran’s mind.
One of the main requirements to become an Eagle Scout is developing, planning and leading others in a service project.
Crystal resident and Eagle Scout John McFerran grew up hearing his mom talk about Graeser Park, located near Highway 100 and West Broadway.
As he advanced through the Boy Scout ranks with only one level left to attain, Eagle Scout, Graeser Park was on McFerrans mind. One of the main requirements to become an Eagle Scout is developing, planning and leading others in a service project.
McFerran said his mom lived near the park and used it growing up, and that led him to choose Graeser Park as his service project.
McFerran and 50 volunteers descended on the park on Oct. 9, 1999. The group cleared away brush, weeds and litter from the parks stone architecture. One of the volunteers spent nine hours with a push mower, cutting the long grass. Originally, McFerran planned only one day to clear the park, but he ended up working at Graeser for an entire weekend.
According to McFerran, the Robbinsdale Police Department didnt like the park before his team of volunteers cleared the debris, because the lower part of the park attracted vandals and underage drinkers. When it was cleaned up, there weren’t as many problems, McFerran explained.
The weekend after the service project, McFerran drove by Graeser and one of the neighbors was using it for a family reunion.
The best part was seeing the results, people actually using it. McFerran said.
For the last five years, construction on Highway 100 has encroached on Graeser Park and destroyed what McFerran worked so hard to restore.
Graeser Park hasn’t drawn many visitors lately. The stone benches and picnic tables removed from Graeser at the start of construction by the Minnesota Department of Transportation are in storage, and as McFerran explained, there’s no sign to mark Graeser Park.
Many people don’t know Graeser Park has a lower level with two giant stone fountains and four benches.
Construction crews removed a set of stairs, leading from West Broadway to the lower portion of Graeser Park, when the West Broadway Bridge was built. Most of the construction was necessary, but some of it wasn’t, said McFerran, expressing his concerns about Graeser Park
McFerran hopes the park will be rebuilt, with a large fence between the park and the highway to block sights and sounds of traffic.
According to Kent Barnard, a public affairs coordinator with the MnDOTs Metropolitan Division, the cost of restoring Graeser Park depends on how much volunteer labor is used and the amount of funds raised.
The best time to actively revive Graeser Park would be spring or summer of 2005, because it would give the construction company that’s using the park for storage enough time to clear out, Barnard said.
McFerran has maintained a watchful eye on Graesers situation since he became involved with the park in 1999.
I will always be involved with this park, one way or another, he said.
© 2004 Sun Newspapers, American Community Newspapers, LLC. All rights reserved.