The city of Hastings soon will have four rest, rehydrate and recharge stations along the Pioneer Spirit Trail.
Hastings received a $24,250 AARP Liveable Community Challenge Grant. Connie Benjamin, state director for AARP, was on hand during the Aug. 12 Hastings City Council meeting to present Mayor Corey Stutte with an oversized check for that amount after council members voted to accept the award.
Each R3 station will include a shade tree, park bench and water fountain with a bottle filler.
The project intent is to solicit additional match funds of $3,920 by private donors to include optional pet fountain attachments at each drinking fountain.
The goal is to remove the fear that older or less active adults have in starting healthy lifestyle changes.
“Folks who don’t use the trail regularly or folks who are just starting healthy lifestyle habits, it’s a little intimidating when you don’t know how far you can go or how far before you get to your next stopping point,” Don Threewitt, development services director for the city of Hastings, said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.
The R3 stations could help people like that venture past their comfort zones.
Two of the R3 stations will include a mobile bike repair station with an air pump, and a set of tools attached by cable to the station.
“If you’re going along and you’re having problems with your bike you’ve got a place to stop and fix it,” Threewitt said.
City staff members still are in the process of finalizing the locations of the R3 stations, which have a November deadline for installation.
Equitable distribution, as well as access to water mains, are factors for where the R3 stations will be located.
The anticipated outcome is that a demonstrated use of the R3 stations coupled with a quantifiable increase in trail use would spur other community organizations to sponsor or build additional R3 stations in pedestrian-oriented areas throughout Hastings and Adams County.
In addition, the project aims to add a series of step-counting markers along the Lake Hastings loop.
Since step-counting is a common activity goal that health practitioners suggest to their patients, having a free and convenient way to count steps while walking in an attractive environment will further promote building healthy habits.
The proposed projects will add needed amenities that will benefit all citizens, but primarily those who are less active, over 50, or those with very young children.
The award fully funds the city’s original application, which will purchase the materials for each rest area.
Although there was no required funding match, the city agreed to provide the labor and infrastructure for installation.
The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative that helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages.
The program is intended to help communities make immediate improvements and jump-start long-term progress in support of residents of all ages.
By receiving the AARP Community Challenge grant, Hastings is in exclusive company.
For the third-annual AARP Community Challenge, AARP received more than 1,660 applications from nonprofits and government entities.
Of those applicants, 159 grant winners will share nearly $1.6 million to develop “quick-action” projects across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Each project will help communities make immediate improvements while jumpstarting long-term progress to support residents of all ages.
Hastings is one of two AARP Community Challenge grant recipients in Nebraska this year. Grand Island was the other.
Omaha was the first Nebraska recipient, in 2018.
“The community should be proud,” Threewitt said.