By Bruce Karnick
Earlier this year, the Hastings City Council created the Community Investment Fund. A $100,000 fund that residents and organizations could apply to make improvements to city owned assets in the city limits. The Community Investment Fund is focused on partnerships and civic engagement with a goal of creating and supporting vibrant, communitysupported, public projects and efforts.
•Categories of project ideas for the fund are:
•Streetscape beautification and walkability
•Enhancements to parks or athletic facilities.
•Trails and nonmotorized infrastructure.
•Improved access to public amenities.
•Historic preservation or commemoration.
•Studies to investigate otherwise eligible projects.
The deadline to apply for the first round of approvals was March 31, 2022. Of the ten applications received for the first round, six were approved totaling $96,977. During the discussion phase, several councilmembers were quite pleased with the level of engagement from the community, especially the matching funds that were brought in for the projects. A total of $94,404 in matching funds were brought forward by the groups asking for CIF dollars. The program also brought some new ideas forward for the city to explore. There were four applications that were not funded directly by the CIF program but the finance committee guided two of those to alternative funding sources.
The applications that were approved unanimously by both the finance committee and council are: Downtown Business Association: $19,563.00 for winter decorations in the downtown area. DBA matching with $19,563.00.
Building Remembrance for Reconciliation (BR4R): $10,000.00 to complete a charette process identifying a future art project and installation. BR4R matching with $3,000.00.
Hastings Hockey Association: $30,273.00 to replace scoreboards in the East Rink and replace the Arena sound system. HHA matching with $32,800.00.
Dakota County Historical Society, Leduc Mansion: $9,920.00 for a new gardening shed, perimeter fencing and site signage. DCHS matching with $4,041.00.
Hastings Hawks & Hastings Youth Athletic Association: $17,221.00 for batting cages and bullpen upgrades. Hawks & HYAA matching with $10,000.00. HYAA and the Hastings Hawks committed $25,000 together for upgrades at Veterans Park. Earlier this year, $15,000 of that went toward a new scoreboard along with fund previously raised and donated to the City.
Hastings Football Club: $10,000.00 for new soccer goals. HFC has committed up to $25,000.00 to continue improvements at Vets Soccer Fields.
Parks Director Chris Jenkins played a vital role in the application process, guiding applicants throughout the program, helping research funding options and submitting the final applications to the finance committee. Countless volunteers in Hastings took part in a variety of ways with the application and matching fund process. Everyone involved should be celebrated for their work in making Hastings a better place.
During the City Council meeting, Council Member Mark Vaughan expressed his desire to see the CIF program continue and hopefully grow through additional community partnerships similar to the partnership that the Doffing Fund has regarding arts and similar programming around town. The remaining council members echoed the sentiments of Vaughan.
With the official, unanimous approval of the six projects, the groups involved can now move forward with the next step on their plans.
Photo courtesy of Beaconathletics.com.
Photo by Bruce Karnick