New Hope extends trial period with Robbinsdale Schools for Cooper stadium

Barb Lehman Stadium at Robbinsdale Cooper High School, 8230 42nd Ave. N., New Hope. (SUN PHOTO BY ALAINA ROOKER)

A one-year trial period allowing non-school events at Barb Lehman Stadium at Robbinsdale Cooper High School has been extended for another two years. 

The New Hope City Council, which had been poised to end the trial period and make the change permanent at the May 11 regular meeting, made the decision after listening to residents’ concerns.

Last year, the City Council approved an amendment to the stadium’s conditional use permit that gave district officials greater flexibility in scheduling events. The council removed requirements that only youth could participate in stadium events and that half of event participants and attendees had to live in the district.

The school district officials wanted to broaden the acceptable uses of the stadium so they could rent the space to third parties.

The neighbors to the school were enthusiastic about the proposal, citing potential noise and an existing trash problem on the grounds and parking lot. The amendment was approved on a trial basis, with restrictions on the use of the public announcement system, lights, parking lot and video scoreboard, and the requirement of an on-site supervisor to monitor the events. The district also created a trash management plan.

Untested year

The May 11 discussion was the lack of non-school events during the trial year. Since the City Council granted the trial period, Special Olympics hosted track and field practices and the city had sponsored a Movie in the Park. Three other events, scheduled this spring and summer, are canceled or are pending cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last summer was not a true test,” wrote a resident in an anonymous comment. “We feel it is not right to pass something that has not been tested.”

The resident warranted that the movie had been “lightly attended” and had “no adverse neighborhood impact,” but was unhappy that the site supervisor had not been present at the field during events, which is required in the amendment.

Councilmembers Jonathan London and John Elder asked if the city or police department had received any complaints in the past year on the cleanliness of the stadium; staff members couldn’t think of any incidents. Elder said he would vote for a two-year extension, but he didn’t mean it as a slight to the district, which had transitioned to at-home learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I appreciate what you’re doing for the safety of our students, your staff and our community,” he said.

Councilmember Andy Hoffe echoed Elder’s comment: “Let’s extend it for two more years, see what happens when there are some events there.”

Councilmember Cedrick Frazier said he was more apt to pass the amendment since any violation would give the council grounds to revoke it.

City Attorney Stacy Woods confirmed that was true.

The extension includes the condition that contact information for the on-site supervisor must be clearly posted so neighbors are able to easily contact the district with concerns.

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