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Burnsville's 50th AnniversaryOne of the community events included this anniversary cake for Burnsville.
Burnsville celebrates its history - and yes, it has one 2014Minneapolis Star Tribune feature story - March 22, 2014 includes interview with Len Nachman on Burnsville's 50 years as a city - while being a township in the 1850s.
Burnsville celebrates 50th yearAlthough founded in the 1800's as a township, this event celebrated when Burnsville became a village and then a city.

To commemorate its 50th year as a city, the City of Burnsville worked with community partners – including the Burnsville Historical Society and Burnsville Convention & Visitors Bureau – to plan 50th-themed events throughout 2014.
50 years of Burnsville 2014High school students pitch in to mark city anniversary

The “Battle for Black Dog” lasted two and a half years. There were no casualties, but some 500 civic warriors mustered at Burnsville Town Hall on Aug. 23, 1961, to hear fighting words from the town board chairman.

“I’d heard the council (in Bloomington) smelled,” Wally Day said, “but I didn’t know it was that bad.”

The battle ended in April 1964 when a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling subdued the northern foes, who had tried to annex Burnsville’s tax-rich Black Dog Power Plant (and potentially all of Burnsville Township) and make it part of Bloomington.

Residents voted on June 17, 1964, to incorporate as the village of Burnsville. Today Burnsville is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of events that began in April and will continue into September.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting Mayor Elizabeth Kautz read a proclamation declaring the anniversary. Since winning the “Battle for Black Dog,” it said, a farming community of 10,700 has become a thriving suburb of more than 60,000 residents and 2,600 businesses.

The celebration focuses on modern Burnsville, after Native Americans, the first wave of immigrants and the original knot of new suburbanites formed a community south of the Minnesota River.

“We always recognize Burnsville’s history goes back beyond 50 years, but for this purpose, we’re really looking at that 50-year timeline,” said Marty Doll, the city’s communications coordinator. While the city and the Burnsville Historical Society have compiled documents and planned events, about 90 Burnsville High School juniors are adding a living history of the last half century.

Students in Kristina Aars’ three American history classes are conducting some 35 interviews with Burnsville residents and community leaders.

The movers and shakers have included Mayor Kautz; Brian Knapp, vice president of operations at Fairview Ridges Hospital; Burnsville Historical Society President Len Nachman; state Rep. and BHS science teacher Will Morgan; Jamal Ansari, owner of the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe in Burnsville’s Heart of the City; District 191 School Board Chairman and BHS graduate Jim Schmid; Florance Adams, longtime manager of Skateville in Burnsville; Peg Fink, a longtime resident and Burnsville Senior Center volunteer; and Dick Ames, patriarch of Burnsville-based Ames Construction Inc., which has become a national giant in the civil construction industry over the last 50 years.

“We’re really excited about that interview,” Aars said. Other subjects have included parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors who were asked what attracted them to Burnsville and kept them here.

The interviews were eye-openers for students, many of whom don’t remember a time when Burnsville didn’t have an urban center called the Heart of the City, Aars said.

“They just love hearing from real people who live history,” she said. “They didn’t really think about history being right under their noses. They think about it just being a textbook thing.”

Students are weaving the local history lessons into national trends, such as the federal highway act that funded I-35W and the Minnesota River bridge, the 1980s health-care boom and construction of Fairview Ridges, and the 1990s return to compact urban design.

“And then the Heart of the City occurring on top of that,” Aars said. “Each decade we tried to tie to some sort of national trend.” She’s planning a bound book of interview highlights and a presentation on the District 191 website.

“Students always get worried at first because I think it takes them out of their comfort zone to go out and interview someone,” Aars said. “But once they start doing it, it’s so much fun to hear their stories. I get a lot of good feedback from the community, as well.”


The city assembled a 50th-anniversary display that’s included in a historical society exhibit (“Burnsville’s Attic: 1939”) showing at the Ames Center gallery through June 15. The city display includes an overview of the annexation battle and early city government, as well as a look at Burnsville public safety, parks and business and development, Doll said.

Through June 18, the city is posting historical snippets on Facebook and Twitter. Recent topics of the “50 Years in 50 Days” project have included the 1994 high school mascot change from “Braves” to “Blaze,” School District 191’s 1995 purchase of Diamondhead Mall and a four-alarm fire in 1993 at the former Mill Pond Apartments.

The city’s I Love Burnsville Week will kick off with Friday Fest on June 6 at Nicollet Commons Park. It will include the “Hands of History” art project coordinated by Burnsville artist Annie Young, a screening of the 50-year-old movie “Mary Poppins,” open viewing of the historical displays in the Ames Center gallery and 1950s music by the band Shake Down.

The historical displays will also be open for viewing during the International Festival of Burnsville on Saturday, July 12. Another anniversary event is being planned for Saturday, Sept. 6, during the annual Burnsville Fire Muster, Doll said.
Burnsville's 50th anniversaryThe Sun/Thisweek News community directory addresses Burnsville's 50th anniversary.
City of Burnsville Celebrates 50 years 2014Information contained on the City of Burnsville website recalls the event on August 23, 1961 as the Township of Burnsville residents learn that their neighbors to the north - the City of Bloomington- had voted to annex the township's largest source of tax revenue, the Black Dog Power Plant....in 1964 Burnsville officially became an incorporated City (referred to as the Village of Burnsville at that time).

To commemorate its 50th year as a city, the City of Burnsville worked with community partners to plan events throughout 2014.
50th Anniversary of Burnsville Postcard series.What Happened to Lyndale Avenue?

Looking north on Lyndale Avenue in 1953, motorists could see service stations along Highway 13 and an open view of the Minnesota River Valley. So where did Lyndale Avenue go? You likely drive on it often, as the two-lane roadway is now the mighty six-lane Interstate 35W.
50th Anniversary of Burnsville Postcard series.Fun in the Sun at Crystal Lake Beach.

Although much of the play equipment–and fashion–has changed since the 1970s, Crystal Lake Beach is still a popular summer spot in Burnsville.
50th Anniversary of Burnsville Postcard series.Committed Fire and Medical Service in Burnsville.

Burnsville’s fire service was provided by the Savage Volunteer Fire Department until 1968, when Burnsville experimented with a combined “Public Safety Department.” In 1981, police and fire were once again separated. In 1984, the department began providing ambulance and emergency medical services to the community. Today, all personnel are trained as firefighters and paramedics.
50th Anniversary of Burnsville Postcard series.Heart of the City Beats Strong at Nicollet Avenue and Burnsville Parkway.

The area of Burnsville along Nicollet Avenue and Burnsville Parkway has long been a major thoroughfare. With great views of the Minneapolis skyline, the area was first developed in the 1960s,
and was redeveloped into the “Heart of the City” in the 2000s.
50th Anniversary of Burnsville Postcard series.Protecting and Serving the Community for 50 Years.

In 1964, Minneapolis Police Inspector Ed Farrell was hired as Burnsville’s first Police Chief. In 1968, the police and fire departments combined into a “Public Safety Department.” Public Safety Officers worked rotating shifts, and wore dark blue blazers, shirts, ties and French blue pants! Police and fire were once again separated in 1981.
50th Anniversary of Burnsville Postcard series.Burnsville Then and Now.

The Many Faces of Village Hall. Burnsville’s original Town Hall was located on County Road 5 in the Ames Construction Building. In 1967, a new Village Hall (pictured on front) was built at 1313 E. Highway 13. Since the new City Hall and Police Station opened at 100 Civic Center Parkway in 1989, the location has been home to the Animal Humane Society, and now, Eden Baptist Church.
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