It's official: Eagan and Dakota County will jointly purchase 27 acres of Caponi Art Park, preserving into the future the roughly 60 acres of woods, hills and public art that has been a fixture in Eagan since 1987.

City Council members approved the purchase last week. The park will be owned entirely by the city, but the purchase agreement allows artist Tony Caponi and his wife to live out their days in their home on the site and arts programming to continue unchanged.

Born in a tiny village along the Adriatic coast of Italy, the 91-year old artist and educator has lived in Eagan since 1949 and taught for many years at Macalester College in St. Paul.

The land, worth an estimated $1.4 million, will be purchased for $800,000, split evenly between the city and county. The nonprofit organization that currently operates the park will remain an independent entity and will be responsible for all park operations and funding. The park will not receive operating funds from the city.

"There has been a multi-decade effort to preserve this artistic and natural gem in our midst," Eagan City Administrator Tom Hedges said.

Caponi Art Park, along Diffley Road between Lexington Avenue and Pilot Knob Road, has more than 18,000 visitors a year.


Black History Month activities planned

The Dakota County library system will mark Black History Month in February with music and poetry programs throughout the month:

•Leonard King Jr. will outline the chronology of rhythm development commonly referred to as jazz, blues, R&B and gospel. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Feb. 2, Burnhaven Library, 1101 W. County Road 42, Burnsville.

•Anita Ruth and T. Mychael Rambo will explore the legacy of African-American poetry and song. 7-8 p.m. Feb. 5, Wentworth Library, 199 E. Wentworth Av., West St. Paul.

•The Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir will perform at 11 a.m. Feb. 16 at the Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Av., Apple Valley.

For more information, see or call 651-450-2900.


Library appearances set at several branches

The Dakota County Library will offer special events in the next few months as part of the "Minnesota Mosaic" program.

Third-generation Red Wing Pottery owner Scott Gillmer will delve into the history of pottery and his family business from 6 to 8 p.m. March 11 at Pleasant Hill Library, 1490 S. Frontage Road in Hastings.

Craig Evans, Rosemount Area Arts Council member, will present "Master Banjo Makers - An American Heritage" from 7 to 8 p.m. May 7 at the Robert Trail Library, 14395 S. Robert Trail in Rosemount. Evans will discuss his Smithsonian Institution study and treat the audience to some tunes.

For more information and a list of programs being offered, visit and search "Mosaic" or pick up a brochure at any Dakota County Library.


King Day observance

A candlelight service and soup dinner in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday, featuring the former pastor of Grace Community United Church of Christ in St. Paul, who has made news for his controversial support of same-sex marriage.

The Rev. Oliver White will speak at the service about "A Love Ethic Grounded in the Gospel of Jesus," and the Carleton Jubilee Singers will perform. The service and dinner are free and open to the public.

White was the pastor of the predominantly black congregation for more than 20 years. He and the church gained national attention after White voted for a resolution favoring same-sex marriage at a national UCC conference in 2005, which caused many members to leave the congregation. The church was forced to move out of its St. Paul location last year.

The event is at the Skinner Memorial Chapel at Carleton College, on First Street between College and Winona Streets in Northfield.