Mediation Services has moved to new office

Mediation Services for Anoka County has moved.

But the nonprofit agency, which last year celebrated 25 years of providing low-cost or no-cost dispute resolution services in the county, has remained in Coon Rapids.

From the office building on Coon Rapids Boulevard where it had been located since the program was launched in 1987, Mediation Services for Anoka County can now be found on the second floor of the Wells Fargo building at 3200 Main St. N.W.

An open house to mark the move took place March 4.

“The space is better for mediations and training opportunities and we save money on rent,” said Dave Bartholomay, Mediation Services for Anoka County executive director.

The move took place Jan. 1 and has been received very well by volunteer mediators and clients alike, according to Bartholomay.

For one thing it is easier to find, just off Highway 10 and across Main Street from Costco, he said.

People would often have difficulty finding the Coon Rapids Boulevard location, Bartholomay said. “It was off the main road,” he said.

The new office is so much better, more professional, Bartholomay said. “It is a soothing, welcoming place,” he said.

Also important is the fact that the agency is saving $7,000 a year in rent at the new location, according to Bartholomay.

That’s a significant savings in a budget of $150,000, he said.

The bulk of its funding comes from government agencies in the county – 13 of the 21 cities contribute – as well as from Anoka County, Bartholomay said.

Contributions and fund-raising are also important components of the budget, he said.

The staff at Mediation Services for Anoka County comprises two full-time employees and one part-time person.

But the agency has some 40 trained mediators and “we are adding people,” Bartholomay said.

The demand for the agency’s services continues to increase. “There is a lot of conflict,” Bartholomay said.

In 2012, the agency served 10,551 Anoka County residents through casework, information, referral and outreach.

The types of mediation offered include community (landlord-tenant, businesses-consumers. employers-employees, family-elder issues, school-bullying), conciliation court, shared parenting and restorative justice, the latter a collaborative program with the Anoka County Attorney’s Office.

Referrals come from a number of sources, including police departments, the courts and the community as a whole, he said.

“We continue to reach more people with our increased program offerings and mediation services and going forward we will be adding online tools and training materials to our website,” Bartholomay said.

The mission statement of Mediation Services for Anoka County is, “Enhance relationships between and among residents of Anoka County by providing voluntary mediation services.

“Promote and educate the residents of the community in alternate dispute resolution techniques, promote peace and harmony in the community and supplement the legal system.”

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]