From: Jack G. Conrad [mailto:jackgconrad @ earthlink.net]
Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2004 4:29 PM
Cc: Ward, John
Subject: New Threats to Caponi Art Park and the Eagan Core Greenway
Dear Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway,
The following Eagan Parks Commission meeting summary comes from member John Ward. The meeting took place this past Thursday, January 15th. A significant portion of the meeting focused on a new proposal stemming from Tony Caponi's son, Remo, who owns six acres of land on the south side of Diffley Road between the city water tower (next to Lexington-Diffley Playing Fields) and the eastern boundary of Caponi Art Park. Evidently Remo has fallen on some financial hard times recently and, without consulting with his father, signed a purchase agreement with a local developer, Ray Miller. Miller would like to build roughly 16 high-end townhomes on this land, which directly overlooks the Art Park's Theater in the Woods and is situated squarely in a pivotal piece of the Eagan Core Greenway.
Note that Eagan's Planning Commission is now scheduled to discuss the pros and cons of the proposal at their next meeting, on Tuesday, January 27th, at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. It will be good if we have representatives on hand to emphasize the short-sightedness of permitting the construction of 16 residences in the middle of prized open space and precious parkland.
Here is John's account. ---JC_____________________________________________________________________________________
This is a summary of tonight's meeting of the Eagan's Parks Commission meeting which considered, as a routine item of business, Ray Miller's intent to build residences on six acres of land next to the Caponi Art Park. I know Ray, and among other things, we have been on opposite sides of development issues in Eagan in previous appearances before the City Council.
History: This is what I gathered, mostly from peoples' comments tonight and earlier. The land is owned by Anthony Caponi's son and is adjacent to the rest of the Art Park on the east side just south of Diffley roughly bracketed by the water tower and the skateboard rink. Several months ago, there was a development attempt on this land involving single family homes but this wasn't accepted by the city, the revision tonight is for multiple family dwellings (four units of two joined homes, two units of four homes each) that, per the developer, meet the city's earlier concerns.
Eric Macbeth, Eagan's Water Resources Coordinator, addressed concerns about storm water runoff from the development, basically noting that the developer's engineer thought that storm water runoff did not require construction of a holding pond.
Greg Hove, Supervisory of Forestry for Eagan, stated that the trees in question could withstand submersion for 24 hours but no more.
Miller's Engineer noted that a 100 year storm would maximally submerge the trees for 18 hours before drainage, within the 24 hours noted by Greg Hove.
Steve Cox from Eagan, representing the Caponi Art Park board, noted that a development in the middle of Art Park and city park land was inappropriate and diminished the secluded experience of the park. Also, automobile noise from the entrance road could interfere with productions at the Art Park's amphitheater. John Ward also spoke, underscoring that this development was not right for parks and especially Eagan's Core Greenway, and, that adding traffic to the hill on Diffley was problematic. Furthermore, storm water runoff has been a problem in Eagan in the past even if the numbers look good. The low section of Diffley Road between Lexington and Pilot Knob was covered with water with our most recent cycle of flooding. Professor Caponi finally addressed the group, emphasizing that this land has always been intended as part of the art park, he has "been working at this thing even before my son was born." He said he is "not against development" but "why undo something valuable?" The City has a "moral obligation to protect this six acres." He elaborated on his long experience with erosion at that site both to the north (covering Diffley and forming a gully that he has dealt with for years using dams and trees) as well as to the south angling into the main body of the Art Park.
Ray Miller spoke a couple of times, mentioning he liked parks and green space, and that he would sell rather than develop this land if the purchaser would also cover his expenses to date, but that aesthetic, runoff and noise issues had been covered and he was purchasing the land tomorrow morning.
The Commission noted that their task and legal obligation was to "determine if our requirements are met" with the "cold, hard facts in front of us." Discussion included comments of an "out of place island" and "I don't like it" with one abstention from the otherwise unanimous vote, but a recommendation was included to ask the Advisory Planning Commission (the next logical step in the process, which meets Tuesday, Jan 27th) to consider the appropriateness of this development in the midst of our parks.