The End of an Era


The month of January had record snowfalls of 17.1 and 18.5 inches. To. gether with the April 20 snowfall, we had 95 inches of snow compared with the yearly average of 45 inches. As usual the Robbinsdale snow plows were out even before the snow stopped and did an excellent job on our streets and alleys. Fortunately, according to Fire Chief, Thomas Sipe, there were no house fires. Most of the fire plugs were covered with snow and could only be found with metal detectors.

The School Board had hired a disinterested panel of three to make a recommendation as to which high school should be closed and on April 27, after months of being deadlocked, the School Board voted to close Robbinsdale Senior High School. Tensions ran high in Robbinsdale and the eastern part of the school district. The “coalition” which had been formed to save Cooper High School campaigned heavily for David Southward, Patricia L. Norby and John Schaefer and at the school board election, each got about 60% of the vote at a record-setting election on May 18, in which about 19.000 turned out to vote.

300 students walked out of class to protest the school board vote to close Robbinsdale High School school in 1982.

Two citizens, Joy Robb and Keith Moberg, filed suit charging violations of the open meeting law and the trial began June 21st. The judge merely fined each board member $100. These parents appealed to the Supreme Court. The ‘heartache” in Robbinsdale was supreme, having lost three schools in four years.

The First Bank Robbinsdale (new name) moved to its present location after two and a half years of site selection, planning and working with the Housing Authority. Kenneth C. Sheehan, president of the bank since 1974. supervised this development as the bank had completely outgrown its former facilities at 42nd and West Broadway. A week-long celebration, beginning June 12, included prizes, free coffee, cookies, Dairy Queens, concerts, square dancing, a City Band concert, a Stillwater Drum and Bugle Corps demonstration and a parade.

In 1983, the board members of the bank included William Corrick, Donald DuSchane, Grace Ketroser, William Kranz, Jr., Robert McMaster, Al SteeFe and newly elected Clifford J. Steinhauser, owner of Merwin Drug store. Retired members included Art Berg, John Brauch, Larry Haeg, Walter Sipe, Hariey Robinson and H. A. Shoonover.

After many years of attempting to solve the parking problem around North Memorial Hospital, and even a referendum in 1978, that defeated one proposal, the hospital finally built a second parking ramp. Payment of $300,000 for some city owned land and vacation of certain alleys, included past rent for use of city land for parking. Hopefully, the parking congestion on residential streets will be eased.

On October 30, the new park created at 41st and Xenia Avenues was formally dedicated and named for Norma DuBois Kelly, who has been on the Housing Authority since 1972, and has been active in preserving open space. Several trees were planted in the new park—a second Arbor Day activity. For several years many Robbinsdale residents had decried the fact that there was no park or open space west of Highway 100. Finally, with the help of federal money, this land was purchased. One old house was demolished and one was moved to 3839 Lee Avenue, was “rehabed” by Hennepin County Vo-Tech School, North Branch, and sold to a private owner in 1981.

The year 1982 ended with two big events. One was a paralyzing snow storm of 16.5 inches on December 28. The other was the presentation of a reverse referendum petition to the School Board on December 20 with about 5000 signatures requesting another election on the 8.5 mill increase approved in the fall of 1981. These citizens were surprised that the School Board, who had pleaded a shortage of money, would then close the most efficient and economically operated high school. The School Board disallowed the petition.

This post is part of a series loosely based on the book Robbinsdale Then and Now by Helen Blodgett.