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Graeser Park in Robbinsdale circa 1940. The park is one of several Depression-era roadside parks built along Highway 100.

The city of Robbinsdale is renewing its efforts to acquire the Highway 100 roadside rest area known as Graeser Park.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation controls the park through an easement, though the land is actually three privately-owned parcels. Due to the age of the park, the title owners are now deceased. According to a memorandum by City Manager Marcia Glick, MnDOT attempted and failed to identify heirs to the parcels a few years ago.

MnDOT previously sought to acquire the land related to preparations for the Blue Line extension. The memorandum stated that at the time, MnDOT planned to acquire a portion of Sochacki Park. MnDOT was required to replace what it took from other parkland to the city of Robbinsdale. The state agency last filed a condemnation petition in 2018.

Plans were scrapped when the light-rail route shifted away from Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad.

On Nov. 16, the Robbinsdale City Council agreed to proceed with the acquisition of the park via a condemnation petition of its own.

The passed resolution concludes that acquisition is “necessary and convenient for the promotion of the public health and history.”

The city, under guidance from the city attorney’s office, will begin the process of acquiring the parcels “up to and including” via eminent domain. The city will also appraise the parcels, and hire a consultant to “perform due diligence” to identify living heirs of the properties. At this time, the city believes that ownership was never formally transferred to heirs.

MnDOT has confirmed its willingness to remove the easement once Robbinsdale local government acquires the roadside park. The agency also began the process of restoring limestone picnic tables and the beehive grill. Due to the extensive restoration, Glick stated in the memorandum that the park acquisition was expected to be “for park purposes only.”

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