New MN Park Combines Art With Nature

EAGAN, MN, March 18, 2005 — With help from the Trust for Public Land, two local artists are achieving a lifetime dream of creating an exciting public park celebrating art and nature. Anthony and Cheryl Caponi have dedicated their lives to creating a unique “art park” on their land with original sculptures lining the winding trails through this wooded landscape. The new park is located in the City of Eagan and connects existing City parkland on both the north and southeast. It is a vital link in the larger Eagan Core Greenway, a swath of green space running through one of the Twin Cities more popular suburbs.

Half of the art park’s 60-acres of rolling hills and woodland will be acquired by the City and remain largely natural. The other half will be owned by a nonprofit organization, the Caponi Art Park, and continue to host sculptures, performing art and educational programs. All of the land will be managed as one park and open to the public. In this unique public/private partnership, people from all walks of life will be able to experience art in a natural setting, and benefit from the continued protection of land for the larger Eagan Core Greenway.

“The Caponi Art Park and the larger Eagan Core Greenway initiative is a great success story,” added Susan Schmidt, Director of the Minnesota Office of the Trust for Public Land. “Not only because of the depth of support this conservation project received but it also because it serves as an excellent example of the diverse funding sources needed in Minnesota at this time to protect land that the public loves. Conservation depends on these same local, state and private sources remaining well funded.”

The Caponi Art Park is unique in the way it combines natural resources and art. The concept is to create an environment suited to cultural and creative activities that utilizes the natural beauty of the land to compliment the artistic works displayed in the park. The Park provides a place for quiet reflection where the connection between art, nature and the human spirit can be re-discovered and nurtured. It is committed to providing educational and cultural activities that are accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds with an emphasis on families, children and seniors who do not typically visit museums or concert halls. All of this is achieved while honoring the natural resources of the property which serves as a critical link in the Eagan Core Greenway, a natural corridor of protected parks and open space running through Eagan.

The effort leading up to the land protection has been long and involved many people and organizations. The Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway – citizens in Eagan – has been instrumental in the long-term development of the Greenway and individual conservation efforts that create the greenway. The public acquisition of the Caponi property was facilitated by the Trust for Public Land with funding provided by a variety of important supporters including the City of Eagan, the Dakota County Farmland and Natural Area Program, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Recreation division funded through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, the DNR Remediation Fund, and the Trust for Public Land through the Metro Wildlife Corridor Partnership as recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources from the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The McKnight Foundation also was instrumental in the protection of this and other Eagan Core Greenway lands.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.9 million acres in 46 states. In Minnesota, TPL has protected more than 25,000 acres of land and worked with fast-growing communities to identify and set aside critical open space for people including the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, Pine Bend Bluffs, and the recent addition to the Patrick Eagan Park. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state.