**The original intent of this piece was to highlight a few of the good things happening in Hastings; a new business and shop in town. But when you start to look at the “right” things about Hastings, where do you stop?
If you deliberately looked for a city that is a good place to live, work and play, you couldn’t find a better choice than the City of Hastings. “What a nice small town,” is often heard from visitors, some even write the City Council to say they enjoyed their time in town.
That doesn’t come without a lot of work by a lot of people over a lot of time.
Look at the town. Flowers and art on street corners, special events almost non-stop, a Farmers Market all summer, and a beautiful courthouse square are all assets.
Hastings has a low crime rate, with a commitment from police to community policing, clean, modern water and wastewater services, an efficient, friendly public services department, and tree-lined sidewalks in the downtown and residential areas.
Established neighborhoods are well kept, with officials preparing for more commercial development and millennials. Developers and Hastings officials anticipate an influx of young people as downtown residents. An apartment building is set for the corner of Apple and Michigan and upstairs apartments throughout the downtown are ready or near-ready for occupancy.
Almost any choice of food you want, with your preference of atmosphere while dining, are here too.
Commercial development in and on the edge of town, Walgreens, the Holiday Inn Express and Jet’s Pizza, San Marco’s Mexican restaurant, Bigby Coffee, Aldi and new pharmacies continues and are being added to all the time.
The site plan for a Dollar General on South Hanover, has been approved, and the Short Stop, in the former Vitale’s building, is open for business and drawing customers.
A convenience store with a twist, the Short Stop, has kept most of Vitale’s menu, takes to-go orders and stocks an array of items that people most often need.
Also new downtown are a cookie/soup/salad shop, an artisan who creates her own porcelain dolls and the Plucky Knitters Studio, who have customers from around the country and the world.
Several niche boutiques attract shoppers. There is talk that Arby’s is coming back to Hastings and Jimmie Johns may locate a franchise here.
Even the location works for Hastings. Those who want a more urban scene once and a while, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Battle Creek are within easy driving distance.
Hastings residents have Gun Lake or any number of smaller lakes nearby to swim, canoe, fish, or kayak. Several thousands bicyclists visit the city during the Barry Roubaix and hundreds more take part in the Macker, also an annual event.
The Hastings City Barry County Airport has built several new hangers for more private planes, a jet fuel station and an extended runway for corporate jets. A radio station and newspaper keep residents up on local interests.
The Thornapple River, parks, special entertainment events, a splash pad for kids, trolley rides in the summer, a variety of community events, many with parades, bring a vibrant tempo to the town, with volunteers and supporters always looking for more reasons for folks to visit Hastings to see what the city offers.
The newest downtown attraction, the Thornapple Plaza, has drawn thousands into Hastings in its first summer concert season. Thanks to years of cooperation by Hastings, Rutland Township and Barry County planners, commercial development is centered along the main/east west corridor through the area, keeping the countryside open, simple and natural just minutes from the city.
People work every day to make Hastings a better place by volunteering, funding projects, working to constantly improve its basic structure, along with citizens who support their city with property taxes and millage are far, far too many to name.
Just be glad they are here, and hope the next generation, when it’s their turn, will continue to build on what they have been given.
Even in a long article like this, much is not mentioned. I think every resident in the city could name something else entirely that makes Hastings a good place to live, work and play for them.