By John McLoone
A Hastings resident asked the City of Hastings to go on the offensive against property owners not shoveling their snow.
Jolene Reamer, 1291 W. 13th St., told the city council during the public comment period of its meeting last week that a new system needs to be considered to make sidewalks safer.
“I feel like as residents of Hastings, we should be able to trust city officials and city workers that our sidewalks that we do have in town can be utilized all year long, safely, rather just in the summer and fall,” Reamer said.
She pointed out many problem sidewalks that as of last week were still snow-covered and slippery from a recent snowfall.
“I’ve seen sidewalks that are city sidewalks, county sidewalks, personal residence sidewalks, as well as business sidewalks that are not clear during the winter time,” she said, “As a registered nurse and as a resident of Hastings, I want to promote the safety, health and well-being of our residents, and it’s important for people to be able to get out and use sidewalks – children, elderly, all of us. If the sidewalks are cleared of snow and ice, we can better prevent falls and injuries.”
Under the complaint-based system, the city takes action when notified.
“It shouldn’t be based on people calling and notifying them that their sidewalk’s not done,” said Reamer. “Somebody should be doing this. Somebody should be evaluating and checking this, in my opinion.”
She listed many areas that she had reviewed that day and listed them out for the council. “A lot of these areas are near schools and near churches. Not everybody drives for transportation. There are a lot of people who walk to their destinations, and walking in the street is not safe,” said Reamer.
In other business at the city council meeting:
•The city council passed a resolution authorizing participation in a national opioids settlement.
City Administrator Dan Wietecha said the state of Minnesota joined a “brad multistate coalition in reaching nationwide settlements with the three largest opioid distributers – AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson – and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The settlements resolve investigations and lawsuits against these companies for their role in the opioid crisis.”
The state could receive $296 million over 18 year, with up to $222 million of that funding paid to Minnesota cities and counties.
“Hastings signing on to the settlement agreement will help Minnesota reach a ‘critical mass’ of participation and receive a greater amount of the potential settlement,” said Wietecha.
•The police sergeants union contract was ratified by the council. Contract term is for 2022 and 2023.
Under the contract, sergeants will receive a 3 percent cost of living adjustment to their pay and a shift differential increase of 85 cents per hour this year and $1 an hour in 2023.¨
• The council approved a resolution authorizing submittal of the 2022 Community Development Block Grant budget to Dakota county.
Funds in the budget are used toward “assessment abatement,” Community Development Director John Hinzman said.
“CDBG funding is intended to fund activities for low and low/moderate income individuals including affordable housing, anti-poverty and infrastructure development. Dakota County receives a direct allocation of CDBG funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and allocates funding to individual cities within the county,” Hinzman wrote in a memo to the council.
Hinzman said that like in past years, the funding will go to help people who need it pay for special assessments that have been levied on property.
“Similar to past years, CDBG funding would be allocated toward providing assessment abatement for local public infrastructure projects, allowing qualifying homeowners to reduce or eliminate their assessment,” said Hinzman. “This year’s project generally involves Park Lane and Park Court, 5th and Ash Streets, 13th Street-Hillside-Lilac Court and the Riverwood area.”
•A couple donations to the city were accepted and recognized. Arland and Vicky Baukol donated $100 for the “work and dedication of the men and women of the Hastings Police Department.”
The Saros, Hagen and Seleskie families presented the City Parks & Recreation Department with a donation of $400 that will be used for a memorial tree in a city park or on a city trail.