The Hastings City Council looked at the first “rough draft” of an ordinance to establish regulations for the Hastings Dog Park Monday and approved forming an informal four-member advisory committee for input on the final draft.
“We will present this draft ordinance to you for initial consideration in the near future,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. The advisory committee could be formally established after adoption of the ordinance, he added.
The city took control of the popular park last year and agreed to keep it open after the citizens group running the park, the Dog Park Companions Committee, notified the city they were terminating its agreement with the city, disbanding and closing the park.
During public comment time at the council meeting, Kay McNeill asked the council what the Companions Committee is doing with the money it raised during the time they were overseeing the dog park. City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes said that the Companions Committee is a community formed organization and the city is not involved in its financial affairs.
McNeill said the Companions are still asking for donations and have nothing to do with the dog park. “What do we do about that? Sue them?” Fekkes again said the city is not involved in the Companions financial activities.
In other business, questions posed by the council on a planning commission decision have led to a workshop with city planner Rebecca Harvey to explain the special use provisions used by the planning commission. A section of an ordinance allowing churches in the downtown area prompted the council to send it back to the commission for clarification.
Commission Chairman David Hatfield was going to explain the recommendation but after further conversation with Mansfield, they suggested a work session on special uses, what they are and how the commission uses them with Harvey leading the meeting.
Hatfield said they are increasingly relying on special uses in their recommendations to the council because of its flexibility and the control on hours, capacity and parking issues it gives. He said in the future, it makes sense that he or another commission member be at council meetings to explain their recommendations. Mansfield will contact Harvey for a meeting date according to her schedule.
Also, the council approved the Municipal Employees Retirement System's 457 deferred compensation plan allowing employees the opportunity to save a portion of their wages “tax-free” to supplement the pension benefits that are provided by the city.