County renews Banfill-Locke center contract

The Anoka County Board has renewed its purchase of service agreement with the non-profit Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts (BLCA).

The arts center is located in the county-owned historic Banfill-Locke building, a historic site on East River Road in Fridley within the county’s Manomin County Park.

Under the agreement, the county will pay BLCA $46,000 from its parks and recreation department budget.

This has been the amount the county has paid for several years, according to County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, who chairs the board’s Parks and Recreation Committee, which recommended approval of the agreement.

Under the agreement, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts will provide a wide variety of arts programs for all ages, interests and abilities, said Jeff Perry, parks operations manager, in a memo to the Parks and Recreation Committee.

“Programs include classes, exhibitions, family events, resident artists and many other opportunities and special events,” Perry wrote.

The county’s grant helps pay for operations, including the BLCA executive director, which until eight years ago was a county position, said John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director.

Eight years ago, the county went with a new management model in which BLCA would hire its own executive director and the county would provide a grant to help pay operational costs, he said.

For its part, the county maintains the exterior of the house, including painting, roofing, concrete sidewalk and steps, exterior lighting, garden care, security system, irrigation system, parking lot surface and driveway entrance including snow plowing.

The parking lot was redone this past year, Kordiak said.

Maintenance of the interior of the house is the responsibility of the BLCA, although the county pays for utilities, except telephone service.

“We have had a very good relationship with Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts and it provides services to the community,” Kordiak said.

According to VonDeLinde, the Banfill Tavern and Locke House was built in 1847 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It was originally a fur trading post on the old ox cart trail between Minneapolis and Fargo, N.D., VonDeLinde said.

According to the county parks and recreation department website, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts is dedicated to the belief that the presence of arts in the community has a vitalizing effect by promoting an awareness and appreciation of the arts.

The center encourages artists in all disciplines, providing opportunities for artists to exhibit, teach, market and perform their work, enriching the quality of life in the community, the website states.

Classes are offered for both adults and children in drawing, painting (oils, acrylics and watercolors), photography and more, as well as an art camp specifically designed for children.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]