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Old fuel dock to become overlook

A fueling dock on the Mississippi River in Jaycee Park, unused for many years, will soon become an overlook and fishing pier.

The dock, which sits along the walking path between the boat launch and the lock and dam, was built in 1942.

"It was literally a gas station on the river," Parks and Recreation Director Barry Bernstein said. "In 1942, the river was a major highway."

The dock was used for fueling barges up until the 1990s, when it was shut down and the city removed the fuel storage tanks located in nearby Lake Rebecca Park.

The dock has been fenced off and unused since then.

At a recent Hastings City Council meeting, the council approved Hoisington Koegler Group as consultants for the project. The concept for the project goes back to 2003.

Bernstein secured a $50,000 grant from the Supplemental Environmental Program, which he hopes will cover the cost of redeveloping the old dock into a useful piece of infrastructure on the river.

The T-shaped pier currently has a small, blue shack on it that will be removed. The concrete deck would be repaired and replaced in some areas. A new railing would be put in, along with a metal arbor for shade and new lighting. Interpretive signage similar to those in other places of the park would also be added.

Bernstein said viewing binoculars are another idea discussed for the overlook.

A structural engineer is currently conducting a test of the deck and lower support beams to make sure they're still OK.

The grant Bernstein secured for the project needs to be spent before June or July of next year, which is the reason he's working on the project now. He's hoping to have City Council approval to begin the bidding process in January and to select a contractor in February.