The city of Hastings wants public input to help identify barriers to mobility in conjunction with the city’s walkability and connectivity study.
The goal of the city’s Universal Mobility Plan Project is to understand the needs and develop plan to better serve the community with phases to be completed over time. To kick off those efforts, there will be a public meeting 4-7 p.m., Tuesday at the Hastings City Auditorium.
“What we want to do is talk to the public and get the user perspective, get the idea of what parts of town have the most critical need, what are the parts of town where folks having difficulties or finding obstacles in mobility and help us try and identify the priority areas,” said Don Threewitt, director of development services for the city of Hastings.
Engineering firm Olsson, which is undertaking the mobility study, is sending engineers around Hastings to assess the city’s 800 blocks, measuring sidewalks and ramps.
Representatives from Olsson as well as from the city’s development services, engineering and parks and recreation departments — who are part of the city’s Complete Streets Committee — will be on hand Tuesday to talk to Hastings residents and gather public input.
“Because of the nature of what we’re talking about, we are going to have a lot of folks there ready to listen one on one,” Threewitt said. “That’s what we’re hoping to accomplish is to get a lot of input from the public.”
While there are methods Olsson and the city could use to prioritize locations for improvement, Threewitt said public input is valuable tool.
“We want to hear from the folks that are actually using the sidewalks as far as what areas they feel need to be addressed and what areas show obstacles they encounter regularly,” he said.
Obstacles include missing curbs or ramps, sidewalks that have deteriorated to the point of being impassable with a wheelchair or walker, and sidewalks that are too narrow or missing sidewalks.
Tuesday’s mobility study public kick-off meeting will be followed by stakeholder meetings in June and July, a facility survey period in July and August and another public meeting in September to look at the study results.
There will be a comprehensive view of the conditions of sidewalks, curbs, ramps and crossings throughout the city.
“We’ll have that in GIS, so as we repair them we can update and have that baseline conditions assessment always there moving forward in the future,” Threewitt said.
The final report will be used to seek grant funds for improvements. The plan is to apply for grants in the fall.
Threewitt anticipates being able to do about 20 percent of the needed repairs with first round of grants.
“Then it’s a matter of making a plan to do incremental ongoing repairs in-house, with the street crews, as we need to and obviously capitalizing on funding as it becomes available,” he said.
Funds used for repairs identified in the mobility study are specifically allotted for Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility improvements.
“These are not funds we’re taking away from streets or bridges or anything,” he said. “These are funds that are very much dedicated for looking at limited mobility and overcoming obstacles to that.”