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Changes planned at two Hastings parks: New elements will be installed this year at Pioneer and Wallin parks

Hastings’ Parks and Recreation Department will be keeping busy this summer. Two parks are scheduled for some improvements.

Pioneer Park is most likely going to be the first park to get a new feature. A picnic shelter is planned there.

Pioneer park gets a lot of use from people throughout the city, not just the immediate neighborhood, said Parks and Recreation Director Chris Jenkins, so the new shelter will be able to serve the whole community.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said.

The concept under development is for a 20- by 30-foot structure on a concrete slab. The shelter would have metal uprights and a metal roof. The underside of the roof would be wood. The concept estimates enough room for about four picnic tables under the shelter.

Parks staff currently are looking to place the shelter just south of the existing playground, right along Maple Street. There, it would be close enough so parents could sit in the shade and enjoy a snack while watching their children play in the playground, and it would be out of the way of the ball field as well, Jenkins said.

Construction is expected to take place sometime around late May or June. Once the shelter is finished, parks staff hope to build a path from the curb into the picnic shelter area, Jenkins said. There is the potential to have electricity in the shelter, although Jenkins said he’s not sure if that will be installed right away.

The shelter will be paid for out of funds set aside in 2013 for the project.

Community input is still welcome on the project. Jenkins said those interested can contact the parks department to let him know what they think.

To contact the Parks and Recreation Department, call 651-480-6175.

Wallin Park

Although definitive plans haven’t been set yet, Wallin Park will also be getting some improvements this summer.

The park’s original master plan calls for the addition of a few more features than are currently in place, including sand volleyball and basketball courts and off-street parking. The 2013 budget had set aside about $50,000 for improvements in the park, but the task now is to figure out what exactly the neighborhood thinks is most important.

“I want to hear from the neighbors up there,” Jenkins said, “… where should we be looking to spend our money.”

One idea is to use the existing ice arena as a sand volleyball court. The sand makes a good base for ice in the winter, Jenkins said, and the boards would help contain loose volleyballs.

Along with the discussions about the parking, basketball and volleyball courts, Jenkins said he wants to start investigating some new options with the existing shelter at Wallin Park. The shelter has two garage doors that are closed most of the time, but can be opened when people rent the facility. With the doors open, the area serves as a picnic shelter with access to restrooms. Jenkins said he’d like to find out if the city could leave the garage doors open so the shelter and restrooms are available to the public throughout the summer using retrofitted time locks that would keep the shelter locked after hours but open during the day.

Jenkins said he hopes to have a neighborhood meeting scheduled sometime around May so residents in the neighborhood can contribute to the development process. The project would be completed in 2014.