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Fasbender talks water, housing and development during State of the City address

“We will have some challenges, as we all know. I think challenges are good. They make us grow, they make us think, and they make us be purposeful for whatever we are here for, and that is the city of Hastings and how to make Hastings the best it can be," Mayor Mary Fasbender said to the audience at her first State of the City address on Feb. 6. Kelsey Roy / RiverTown Multimedia

Hastings Mayor Mary Fasbender gave the 2019 State of the City address to a filled banquet room at Hastings Golf Club on Feb. 6.

After lunch, the State of the City presentation kicked off with with a video highlighting the city's successes in 2018, including: multiple infrastructure and development projects, new programs in the Hastings Police Department and the Parks and Recreation Department, and the start of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Initiative.

Issues that Fasbender wants to address for 2019 include economic development, disinfection of the city's water system and housing.

Fasbender told the audience that the city is currently in the process of hiring a coordinator to work with the city.

"That has been a component of the city that has been lacking for a few months now. With that, it's hard to have a growing city, in business or residence, with that type of a person," Fasbender said. "I'm sure that person will be helping the businesses that are already here and continue to help the businesses that want to come to our community."

With the issue of disinfecting the city's water system, Fasbender thanked and asked Hastings residents to continue to be patient as the city figures out the best solution for everyone.

City Council held a workshop Jan. 21 where they were given results of a feasibility study examining different options to sanitize the city's water system.

"We want to be proactive with this, so just trust in what we are doing and we will have the best result for Hastings," Fasbender said.

On housing, Fasbender offered a different take that she learned about while at the League of Minnesota Cities conference held Feb. 2-3.

The issue of affordable housing is one that many Minnesotan cities are dealing with right now, but what they are really talking about is growth, Fasbender said.

"We don't want anybody to feel unwelcome. We want everyone to feel like this is the town they want to live in ... so rather than saying affordable housing, how about we talk about housing for all. That includes everyone and doesn't exclude anyone. I really want to emphasize that," Fasbender said.

Fasbender also discussed initiatives that she has started since taking office over a month ago.

One such initiative is "Chats with Mary," where she invites members of the public to come and share their concerns with her in a more informal setting. Going forward, her plan is to visit each ward to give everyone a chance to speak their mind. The one thing that Fasbender asks is that residents come with a positive, even if they are there to talk criticism.

"We can't have all negative. We have to know what we are doing right too," Fasbender said.

Along with "Chats with Mary," she has opened up three days of office hours at City Hall for people to come and share their thoughts.

Times, dates and contact information for her office hours are all available at www.hastingsmn.gov/city-government/city-departments/communications/events. Fasbender advised that people should call ahead to make sure she is available.