From: Jack G. Conrad [mailto:jackgconrad @ earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 1:29 AM
Subject: Eagan to lose 40 acres of green space; 60 more acres threatened at the Caponi Art Park
Dear Friends of Patrick Eagan Park,
Those of you who saw this past Tuesday's Eagan Sun-Current newspaper were likely saddened to learn that the city's treasured Diamond-T Ranch is unceremoniously being sold to a Minneapolis development firm, with residential homes planned for the entire property, a property that sits on the northern edge of Lebanon Hills County Park. Regrettably, the owner apparently did not consider approaching Dakota County and the new Farmland and Natural Area project for preservation funding. (See following Sun-Current story for details)
"Loss of Diamond T Ranch"
As if that sad news was not enough, readers also learned last week that Tony Caponi's recent effort to facilitate an Art Park protection transaction with the City was not well received by Eagan's City Council. At present, it looks like talks between the two sides will be on hold for the indefinite future, at least until some clarity materializes from a potential purchase agreement between the Caponi Art Park and Macalester College, concerning 10 acres on the north-east corner of the park.
It turns out that Tony Caponi had a heart attack last month, and his older adult children are encouraging him to "cash in." Although his vision for preserving the park remains unchanged, his time may be running out, as his doctors repeatedly warn him to slow down. As a result, he is no longer in a position to single-handedly spearhead efforts to find an equitable agreement with the City.
Whereas Parks Director Ken Vraa provided a reasonable assessment of Tony Caponi's simplified proposal last week:
Vraa said Caponi made the change in the offer [from 30 to 20 acres] because he sensed the city was not going to be able to raise the funds necessary to buy the whole 30 acres as presented in his previous offer. Those 30 acres are valued at $1.75 million, Vraa said.
... a visibly irritated City Council member Peggy Carlson retorted:
"We can talk about our options over and over again and go around and around," Carlson said. "We could keep talking, but I think we need to make a proposal of our own and see if it is refused. I am not willing to consider this new option at this time."
Carlson proposed that the council wait until there was a firm agreement on the part of Macalester to buy the 10-acre northern parcel before discussing the new proposal. If that sale comes through, then the city could discuss buying the 20-acre parcel alone, she said.
So uncertainty and developmental threats to the Caponi Art Park persist:"New Proposal Puts Caponi Talks on Hold"
What can we do to help advance negotiations between the City and the Caponis?
Contact your City Council members to express your concern. Tell them that it is unacceptable for the City to wait indefinitely for Macalester to complete negotiations with the Caponis. Prospective partners in the preservation of the Art Park are waiting for the City of Eagan to settle, at least tentatively, on a plan with the Caponis. Tell you Council representatives that you want them to continue discussions with the Caponis, even if the Caponis opt to revisit options with Macalester.
How to contact them: Here are their phone numbers and e-mail addresses:
Mayor Patrick Geagan: 452-7215 [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
City Council Members:
Peggy Carlson: 686-7400 [ email@example.com ]
Cyndee Fields: 686-0351 [ firstname.lastname@example.org] (old address)
Mike Maguire: 688-3519 [ email@example.com]
Meg Tilley: 454-7819 [ firstname.lastname@example.org]
If you have difficulties contacting them directly, leave them a detailed voice mail message or send them an e-mail message. Express your views and underscore the importance of preserving this invaluable local green space.
In order to further educate local residents on this issue, Friends of Patrick Eagan Park will be staffing tables and distributing information at Caponi Art Park (www.caponiartpark.org/elizabethan.html) this Sunday (August 3rd), during the Elizabethan Festival (3:00 - 6:30 p.m.) and before the play ("Twelfth Night") (6:00 - 7:00 p.m.). If you would like to help, please contact David Brunet (452-6847) or me (683-9380).
Thank you for your on-going support for the Eagan Core Greenway:
On Behalf of the Friends of Patrick Eagan Park Steering Committee