Community Investment Fund again invests Hastings’ ‘hidden gem’


Bruce Karnick spoke on behalf of the Hastings Hawks at the March 18 Hastings City Council meeting. The organization is raising funds for park renovation and is seeking city assistance.
“Veterans Park really is what I like to call Hastings’ hidden gem because it does set back where not a lot of people go,” said Karnick. “Every year we have about 100 different events out there from April to October.”
He pointed out that of the five years of data collected, there were 503 events just at the baseball field which doesn’t include the soccer field or anything else. The Hawks are about 18% of those games. “So out of all that, we're only 18% but we put all of our money back into the park and that's what we're really here to talk about. We spearheaded a lot of the improvements there, we got HYAA to join us, and we've got the Hastings High School baseball players that want to help,” Karnick added.
With other community partners on board, they would like to expand the concession stand, and add a controlled entrance, repair the backstop, improve the dugouts, update the field lights, and fix the fencing in foul territory. Adding ADA-compliant access is of utmost importance. Karnick stated there is no path for wheelchair access to the park or handicapped parking at all.
“There's no true ADA parking out here,” said Karnick pointing to the park map. “This is actually where people park and its dirt. There's a drivable surface but there's no parking spaces that are set up for ADA compliance. What we do currently is if we see someone with a wheelchair drive on up, we literally get them as close as we can.”
The park would see big savings if the lights dating back to the mid-80s were replaced, “They take about half an hour to turn on,” said Karnick. “Cost wise, they're ridiculously expensive to run. LED technology now is 70-80% less expensive, but they cost $130,000 to install. Again, that's part of the money that we want to work toward getting through raising funds.”
Karnick explained why this would be a good investment for the city.
“We have the opportunity this year with Cannon Falls doing a million-dollar renovation on their field starting in June. They will not host this year’s classic Cannon Valley league tournament for regions. That's a two-week tournament that brings all the teams from Wanamingo and Rochester and all over the region, either to Red Wing and Cannon Falls or this year Red Wing and Hastings. We must be able to sell beer to do that. And we need the space to be able to do that as well.”
Karnick expressed appreciation for the Parks Department staff.
“The primary purpose of bringing my notes is for you to see just how much work we do as an organization. Here's the funny part about that,” said Karnick. “There's five of us. There are five board members. We've accomplished all that and we're going to keep accomplishing more but we need that partnership with the City of Hastings to continue. So, I hope tonight when you guys have a chance to vote on the Community Investment Fund that you approve it so we can get to work and have that built maybe before our season starts.”
Later in the meeting, Hastings Hawks were approved to receive $22,800 from the CIF for expansion and roof replacement of existing concession stand, contingent on receiving State approval under the terms of the City’s lease agreement with the state. The Hawks would provide $10,000 in funds and $6,000 in-kind labor. Other applicants approved for CIF money were: Barb Hollenbeck - $6,705 for a public-facing mural at 209 Sibley St., with Hollenbeck providing $6,705 in matching the fund; Downtown Business Association - $9,557.25 for holiday lighting of rooftops, including additional lighting on Sibley and 3rd St. and trees in Oliver’s Grove Park, DBA providing matching funds of $9,557.25; and Hastings Pickleball Association - $10,900 for windscreen, picnic tables, and signage with P.A. providing $2,500 in matching funds. A balance of $49,287.75 remains to support additional CIF projects in 2024 or to be carried into 2025.