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This concept drawing shows the design the Rotary Club has settled on for the Hastings River Place, which it hopes to build in Levee Park this summer. Image courtesy of the Hastings Rotary Club

Rotary announces new pavilion plans: Fundraising efforts kick into high gear

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If all goes well, Hastings could have a new outdoor performance and gathering space in Levee Park this summer.

The Hastings River Place, an outdoor performance and gathering pavilion, will be multi-functional for performances and gatherings, with hillside seating and a scenic view of the new Hastings bridge.

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The Hastings Rotary Club has been spearheading the project, coming up with concept designs and working to raise the roughly $450,000 needed to build it. Now they’ve raised more than $200,000, nearly half their goal.

“So we’re well on our way,” said John Hanson, chairman of the committee guiding the project.

Since an initial concept was shown to the city council and public last year, the Rotary Club has been out talking with various groups and organizations that would use the space, finding out what would really benefit the people of Hastings. The comments they received, combined with the club’s desire to create a multi-use destination along the river led to a new design.

The final design concept is more open, so it can easily be used for open air concerts or performances while also serving as a gathering space. It also brings the arch elements from the bridge into downtown, with archway supports and arched roofs. The roof will share the same color as the bridge.

Fundraising

With nearly half the funds already secured for the project, the Rotary Club is hoping the community will step up in the next few months and raise the remaining amount.

Two major fundraising events are already planned. The first is a free kick-off party for the Hastings River Place, scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10 in the banquet room above Premier Bank in Schoolhouse Square. The event will feature live local music, a cash bar and comedy improv by Black Dirt Theater.

The second event is Hastings Hops and Grapes, the Rotary Club’s annual wine and beer tasting event. That event is set for Thursday, May 8, at the Hastings Country Club, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from any Rotary member.

Other individuals and organizations are also working out details for additional fundraising events.

Hanson said that business sponsors and individuals are needed to help the Rotary reach its goal. The club would like to build the pavilion this summer, but in order to do that, fundraising has to be finished this spring, he said.

Building community

The comments Rotary members have heard about the project have been positive.

“I literally have not had anybody question the concept,” Hanson said. “What I generally hear is Hastings has needed this for years and years.”

The Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council certainly agrees. When HPAAC heard of the project, it contacted the Rotary Club to lend support.

“The arts plays a very critical role in quality of life and livability of a community,” said HPAAC President Dick Graham.

A place like Hastings River Place would serve as a venue for artists to perform and showcase their work, he said. He said he can see all sorts of uses for the site.

“Music, theater, dance, art shows, kids concerts, there’s no end to the possibility,” he said.

Hastings High School band director and River Valley Band director Jim Jacobsen has also given his support to the project.

“I was pretty excited about it, to be honest,” he said, “because I think we need some type of outdoor performance space for various groups.”

As the community band director, he’s seen other communities’ outdoor performance spaces bring people together.

“It brings people downtown, to that beautiful area right off the river,” he said.

Spaces like the pavilion are also opportunities to attract people from outside Hastings, he said, since performers from other communities would want to perform there. He noted that a similar space in Red Wing always has a wait list.

Already, the project has been one that involves the whole community. Although the Rotary Club is leading it, others have lent considerable support. The City of Hastings donated the land and gave the Rotary the thumbs-up to begin fundraising. The city has its own downtown improvement project, and is including the pavilion plans into its own concept drawings as a centerpiece for the park.

The Ruth Gale and George W. Doffing Charitable Fund is a major contributor. HPAAC is a partner as well. Several arts and performance leaders in Hastings have already signed letters of commitment stating they’ll make sure the new site is used. And they’re encouraging others in Hastings to chip in.

“I think it’s going to be something that everybody’s going to be very proud of,” Graham said. “This is going to be a great opportunity for people to make an important contribution to Hastings by supporting the Rotary project.”

For more information, find the project page on the Rotary Club’s website, www.hastingsmnrotary.com.

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Katrina Styx
Katrina Styx has been a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette since 2010. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Prior to coming to Hastings, Katrina reported for weekly newspapers in Jordan, Minn., and River Falls, Wis.
(651) 319-4501
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