Reviving Romkey: Residents offer mixed views of changes
Mark Nyborg remembers the 1960s version of Romkey Park. It was a neighborhood of young families and gleaming apartment buildings, where kids could ride their bikes alone to the Tastee Freez or swimming pool nearby. But in the mid-'90s, just a few...
Mark Nyborg remembers the 1960s version of Romkey Park.
It was a neighborhood of young families and gleaming apartment buildings, where kids could ride their bikes alone to the Tastee Freez or swimming pool nearby.
But in the mid-'90s, just a few years after he moved back into his childhood home at 1208 19th St. S., Nyborg began to notice gang activity -- graffiti on garages, vandalism to buildings, even shootings and stabbings in the park.
"Now they've reversed themselves back again -- it's much nicer than it was," Nyborg said.
Many of the buildings have been cleaned up.
He hears fewer sirens at night. And the number of all-night parties -- including drunks walking through the neighborhood -- has plummeted.
"Question is -- is it going to stay that way?" Nyborg asked.
Across the street, Barb Fraundorfer's view is a little different.
Her house at 1211 19th St. S. has been vandalized several times. Her husband's truck was stolen from the driveway while the family was sitting down to dinner. Most recently, a group of drunken adults attempted to steal her Christmas lights.
Not surprisingly, Fraundorfer doesn't think the neighborhood has improved during the nine years she's lived there.
"I have stood here in my front lawn watching police -- with drawn guns -- taking down guys in the yard there," Fraundorfer said, pointing at the apartment buildings across the street.
"We still have a lot of concerns," she said.
But Dan Braley, a Minnesota State University Moorhead sophomore who lives in an apartment at 917 19th St. S., said he's not worried about neighborhood safety.
"I've heard things -- that people think it's all bad and everything -- but we go out and play basketball at 1 in the morning, 2 in the morning, and there's nothing bad going on," Braley said.
When Cara Pester decided to move out of her 19th Street South apartment, she liked the neighborhood enough to move to a townhouse next door. Pester moved to the Romkey neighborhood in 1995, simply because it was close to MSUM, she said.
"When I first moved here and I told people where I lived, they'd be like, 'Ohhhhhh, you're living there?'" Pester said.
She doesn't take her kids to Romkey Park -- preferring the playground at Thomas Edison Elementary, several blocks from her townhouse.
But Pester has never had any trouble in the neighborhood. Since moving in, she thinks the area has improved, looks better, and is safer.
"I think it's gotten better all the way around," Pester said.
Nyborg still has some concerns. He'd like to see more lighting on 12th Avenue, and more police patrols around the neighborhood. He wishes the city could force some landlords to clean up their property and keep it that way.
"There's room for improvement, especially in the look of the area," he said. "But the last couple years, I've got to say it's pretty good."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556