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Tornado cleanup progressing at nature center

Work on a new roof at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center is slated to begin Aug.17, the center’s director told the Austin parks and recreation board Wednesday.

The center was hit hard by the June 17 tornado, particularly the visitor center, which lost a segment of its roof. A temporary ceiling and blue tarp has covered the hole since.

Director Larry Dolphin said work will also have to be done inside, including electrical and window replacement.

Dolphin said he expects the work to take two to three weeks. Funds are coming from insurance.

Another area hit hard by the storm — Todd Park — is making progress, parks and recreation director Kim Underwood said.

The park is still closed as some potentially dangerous holes dot the lawn where trees used to stand.

Underwood said she’s playing it “week-by-week” when it comes to determining when the park will open.

Underwood also noted that between $1,400 and $1,700 was raised for new trees at the park during the July 12 police and fire department softball game.

Arts in the Park Committee formed

Also Wednesday, the parks and recreation board voted to approve their share of grant requests that will be going before the Hormel Foundation later this year.

One of the grant requests calls for $75,000 to go toward tree replacement at both Todd Park and the nature center.

Another request calls for nearly $29,000 in support for student fees at the nature center.

That request received the second-most support from city council members Monday when they prioritized all 13 Hormel Foundation requests.

The park board also granted a rental waiver to a new committee looking to hold an “arts in the park” event.

The newly formed Austin Community Arts in the Park Committee is planning to hold the first event on Sunday, Aug. 30 at Bandshell Community Park.

The waiver will cover the $120 fee for using Veteran’s Pavilion.