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Editorial: City goals are heading in the right direction

Early Tuesday morning this past week, Mayor Paul Hicks delivered his annual State of the City Address. The yearly speech is one that summarizes key achievements of the past year and also offers a taste of what the city hopes to accomplish in the coming year.

This year's speech talked of some exciting goals for the city, including continued public transportation improvements, completing a 10-mile recreational trail loop and exploring the concept of a trail to Red Wing, starting construction on the Artspace project and finally completing the sale of the former Hudson Manufacturing building, developing a new master plan for the Vermillion Street corridor and achieving the fourth step in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, among others.

Goals such as these are good for the city. If completed, they'll improve the quality of life for residents here, improve the local economy and improve local sustainability practices. Transportation is becoming an ever increasing need here as the population grows older and people seek more connection within the community as well as to the Twin Cities.

The local trail system has been a point of pride for city officials and residents alike. Adding new segments brings the city closer to its long-term goal of becoming a regional trail hub, which could attract tourism to boost the city's regional reputation as well as dollars to boost the local economy.

The Great Rivers Landing project, once completed, will inject new life to downtown Hastings' west end with new residents, new commerce and new public amenities. Similar activity is already underway on the east end with the Artspace project, which is currently under construction.

Along the same lines, redevelopment along Vermillion Street has potential to change the face of the city, much as the Riverfront Renaissance changed the face of downtown Hastings and the riverfront. Although it will take several years to achieve, this project stands to be one of the most important endeavors the city could take on.

Finally, establishing itself as a GreenStep City shows residents and visitors just how much this city values its natural resources. Considering Hastings sits right along the Mississippi River, which is in need of environmental champions, it's a worthy cause to pursue.

We're looking forward to seeing how these projects turn out.