HARTINGTON — Sunny skies and cake and coffee were part of the ground breaking ceremony April 5 for Hartington’s new housing development Westfield Acres.
The ceremony took place after close to three years of planning, working with engineers to get the right layout, writing grant applications, obtaining financing for the project and a whole lot of work along with a re-schedule of the ground breaking ceremony.
Project Coordinator Dan Kathol said he was thankful for all of the people who had been instrumental in Westfield Acres becoming a reality.
“We owe a lot to our strong business leaders – our community would have diminished without them,” Kathol said.
Kathol talked briefly about the early settlers who staked out claims for homes in the location where the new town of Hartington had been platted.
“The initial 54 residents that started Hartington 128 years ago would be proud to be here today,” Kathol said.
Kathol asked Fr. Jeff Loeske of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church to begin the ceremony with a prayer of thanksgiving and to bless the ground where Westfield Acres will be located.
The ceremony kicked off Phase 1 which involves 19 lots on ten acres of ground in southwest Hartington.
The average size of the lots will be around 100 ft. wide by 146 ft. deep and will sell for approximately $26,500 depending on the size, said Kathol.
The lots will be available for sale this spring and construction on houses will begin in the fall of this year.
“We know we will get off to a good start – we already have people who are interested in buying a lot,” Kathol said. “Our goal is to see two houses built each year until all of the lots are full.”
Phase two is projected to start in 2018 on an additional nine acres of ground which will be purchased over the next few years.
Mayor Brad Peitz said the housing development was a good investment for the town.
“Hartington has a history of being a progressive community – we need to keep moving forward,” Peitz said.
Chris Miller, President of the Hartington Economic Development was happy the housing development was this far along.
“It is a great feeling to be at this point,” Miller said. “Hartington is a great place to call home.”
Brian Gaskill, a Nebraska Economic Development Housing Specialist, told the crowd he was impressed with the town the first time in was in Hartington.
“Last year I made my first trip to Hartington – I could see there was a great sense of community pride throughout the town,” Gaskill said.
Financing for Westfield Acres did not come without a number of people paying the price of putting in many hours of work.
Grant funds from the NE Dept. of Economic Development in an amount close to $400,000 will be used for Phase 1 of the project. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bonds purchased by the four Hartington banks will provide $300,000.
The remaining funds will include the use of the LB840 city sales tax revenue and other sources.
“We will use $35,000 from the sales tax funds. The money will be paid back as the lots are sold,” Kathol said.
Kathol asked for a round of applause for Hartington’s Economic Development Coordinator Carla Becker.
“Carla has brought in nearly $950,000 worth of grants for the Hartington community,” Kathol said.
Kathol thanked the Housing Development Committee for the many meetings, emails and decisions that were made to move the project forward.
“There were a lot of ‘T’s that had to be crossed and ‘I’s that had to have a dot,” Kathol said.
Duane and Elaine Arens were happy to see the project get off the ground. The land had been in the Arens family for over 63 years.
“My parents, Leo and Blanche Arens, bought the property in 1947 – we farmed 68 acres in this area,” Duane said.
“We are happy to see it get to this point,” Arens said. “We’re excited to see this day.”
Duane and Dan Kathol were among the nine people to don a hard-hat and grab a shovel for the groundbreaking portion of the ceremony.
“We are breaking ground for our future,” Kathol said.