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Levee Park pavilion project gaining approvals from city

Construction is still a ways off, but the Hastings Rotary Club is working on securing the necessary approvals to make sure work can go forward on a public pavilion in Levee Park.

In June, the Rotary Club revealed concept plans for the structure after gaining the support of the city council. The concept shows an open frame shelter on a concrete slab and colored to match the new bridge.

Next week, they’re seeking a variance to the city code that requires structures to be located at least 150 feet away from the river.

Community Development Director John Hinzman presented the request to the Hastings Planning Commission Sept. 23. The variance would allow the pavilion to be 50 feet from the river at its closest point. Staff recommended approving the variance based on the fact that the structure depends on proximity to the river to properly serve its purpose.

The city has involved the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the discussion, as well as the National Park Service and Friends of the Mississippi River, since those organizations have a vested interest in what happens on and near the river. All three appear to support the project, Hinzman said.

The Hastings Rotary is currently working on securing funding for the project, which is expected to cost $450,000. The Rotary has pledged $50,000 and is actively seeking other donors.

Securing the variance now allows the Rotary to confidently say where the pavilion will be located while it works on the fundraising portion of the project.

The goal is to finish fundraising by the end of this year and start construction next spring. If all goes well, construction could be finished by the fall of 2014. Once the project is complete, it would be turned over into the city’s possession and care.

The Rotary is looking for a variety of donors. To donate, contact Joe Drexler at 651-438-3646, Scott Northard at 651-437-7084 or Troy Weathers 651-480-3002.