Grosse Pointe Park City Councilman James Robson and Mayor Robert Denner were honored for their many years of service during the Grosse Pointe Park Foundation’s annual fundraiser Sept. 11.

Grosse Pointe Park City Councilman James Robson and Mayor Robert Denner were honored for their many years of service during the Grosse Pointe Park Foundation’s annual fundraiser Sept. 11.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Outgoing Grosse Pointe Park officials honored during foundation fundraiser

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 23, 2021

  AtAttendees of the Grosse Pointe Park Foundation’s Party in the Park Sept. 11 gather along the water at host Michael Shields’ lakefront home.

AtAttendees of the Grosse Pointe Park Foundation’s Party in the Park Sept. 11 gather along the water at host Michael Shields’ lakefront home.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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GROSSE POINTE PARK — The nonprofit Grosse Pointe Park Foundation used its annual fundraiser to honor two outgoing longtime city officials.

The Party in the Park, held the evening of Sept. 11 at the Park home of Michael Shields, saluted Mayor Robert Denner and City Councilman James Robson, neither of whom are seeking reelection in November. Denner has served on the council and, in more recent years, as mayor, for the last 18 years, and Robson has served on the council for almost 30 years total.

“He’s done an outstanding job,” Grosse Pointe Park Foundation Vice President Paul Lavins said of Denner. “He and prior councils made Grosse Pointe Park (number) 23 out of the top 50 cities to live in.”

Former longtime Park City Manager Dale Krajniak, a foundation member and Park resident, noted that Denner has been active with the city for many years.

“I had the opportunity to work with Mayor Denner for a little over 30 years when he first became a trustee of the Park Foundation,” Krajniak said by email. “Bob has a big heart and volunteered countless hours as a Trustee, a councilmember and most recently as the Mayor. Grosse Pointe Park is a great community, and it’s a result of Bob and the many individuals like Bob that put their hearts into the community.”

Denner said the foundation has “been an important part of our community for a long time” and “one of the many reasons Grosse Pointe Park is the best place to live anywhere.”

“I am a Grosse Pointe Park booster and resident, and I’ll continue to support the community and continue to support the foundation,” Denner continued.

Denner introduced Robson, calling him a “well-regarded public safety professional.” Robson is a retiree of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

“Jim has had a very long and distinguished career of service to Grosse Pointe Park,” Denner said.

Denner said Robson first served on the council for two four-year terms starting in 1985. He then ran again in 2001 and was reelected five times. Denner said Robson helped establish the city’s Tax Increment Finance Authority, or TIFA, and served during the period in which the city constructed a green belt on Jefferson Avenue and created a Downtown Development Authority, among other endeavors. The Grosse Pointe Park Foundation was formed during this time, as well, Denner said.

“He was a champion of the northwest sector (of the city), also known as the Cabbage Patch,” Denner said of Robson.

Denner recalled Robson taking him on a tour of that neighborhood, including going down every alley.

Because of Robson, “I understood how important it was to be vigilant and to support that neighborhood,” Denner said.

Robson recalled problems like blight and crime when he first started on the council but noted that the Park “is so much better” today, with low crime and homes in the more modest northwest sector of the city now selling for $250,000.

Today, the business district on Kercheval Avenue — simply called The Park — has many new retailers, restaurants and service providers, and regularly hosts popular community events.

“It’s the most vibrant business strip in the state of Michigan,” Robson said.

Referring to the lengthy meetings the City Council often has now, Robson joked that one of the reasons he’s not running again is because he wants to go to bed before 2 a.m. He also said he wants to spend more time traveling and seeing his grandchildren.

“I (also) really do need to spend more time with my bride of 51 years,” Robson said of his wife, Kathy, beaming as he looked at her in the audience.

Robson also thanked and praised Denner for his hard work and years of service.

Because the party took place on Sept. 11, Robson led the crowd in a moment of silence to remember the many lives lost in the terrorist attacks 20 years ago. He asked fellow public safety veterans in attendance — former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, Park Public Safety Director Bryan Jarrell and Deputy Director James Bostock — to join him at the podium as they remembered the many public safety professionals who were killed trying to save lives on 9/11.

Grosse Pointe Park Foundation Treasurer Barb Detwiler, a former City Council member, announced that the foundation’s next project is refurbishment of the Public Safety Department’s aging gym and fitness center. She said the foundation has set aside $50,000 to do this project but said the City Council still needs to approve it. The council is slated to vote on the project during its next regular meeting Sept. 27, Detwiler said.

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