Downtown parking lot plans approvedThe City of Hastings has approved plans for a new park and ride lot in downtown Hastings.
By: Katrina Styx, The Hastings Star-Gazette
The City of Hastings has approved plans for a new park and ride lot in downtown Hastings.
The lot, to be constructed on the southern two thirds of the vacant lot between East Second and East Third streets and east of Tyler Street, is the first visible step towards establishing a transit rail station here as part of the Red Rock Corridor project.
The project is being funded by a $600,000 grant from the Metropolitan Council.
Plans include 100 parking stalls, a platform area along Tyler Street for potential future bus loading, a lowered island to catch and filter water runoff and lighting. Plans also involve converting East Third Street into a parking lot access only, eliminating the road from the south driveway to Bailey Street. Some of Bailey Street would also be eliminated.
“That is the big change in addition to building a parking lot,” said Director of Public Works Tom Montgomery.
The trail through the lot currently would be widened and extended to connect Third Street to the emergency railroad crossing at Third and Bailey streets. The trail would be made 12 feet wide in that area and would serve as emergency access to the Third Street railroad crossing.
Although there are two homes along East Third Street across from the lot, neither have driveways on the street. Vehicle access to those homes would remain through the existing alleyway. Bailey Street would remain paved up to the UBC building at Bailey and Fourth streets.
A loading area along Tyler Street will provide a safe place for passengers to board a bus if and when bus service comes to Hastings. The lot will be too cramped for buses to navigate.
“It prevents a lot of pedestrian and bus conflict,” Montgomery said.
Parking will still be allowed along Tyler Street, at least until the time when bus service arrives.
Although the driveway into the lot from Second Street will be removed, the northernmost 70 feet of the block will not be developed with the parking lot. While owner authority of the parking area has been signed over to the Met Council as part of the funding agreement, the city has retained the north section for its own use, with the idea that it could be used as a farmer’s market or vendor area. Conditions set on the parking lot by Met Council do not allow any income-generating events to be held in the parking area.
The Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority reviewed the plans at its June 14 and voted to send them to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission reviewed and approved the plans June 25. The Hastings City Council reviewed and approved the plans at its July 2 meeting. Construction is expected to begin in September and finish in October.
Councilmember Tony Alongi expressed concerns over building the lot in expectation of bus service to Hastings, even though there's no guarantee that bus transit will come here.
"There's other ways for local government to show it's interested, it's invested," he said.
Mayor Paul Hicks and Councilmember Barb Hollenbeck noted that building the lot is an important first step in getting bus service from the Met Council. And although there's no guarantee of bus service, getting such service would be "a lot more difficult without it," Hicks said.