Archived Story

New Niles sports complex ‘not a done deal’

Published 3:58pm Thursday, November 29, 2012

A sports complex for soccer, baseball and softball on the 26-acre site where Tyler Refrigeration sat “is not a done deal.”

“There’s no guarantee it’s going to happen,” City Administrator Ric Huff said Wednesday. “We’re doing an environmental review of the property and a feasibility study; due diligence. We’ll know by early January if there will be a sports complex.”

Monday night Niles City Council approved a $35,930 professional services agreement with Wightman and Associates Inc. of Benton Harbor.

“The entire project is planned to not use city funds,” Huff said.

The city will be reimbursed by United Technologies, owner of Carrier Corp.

“If this occurs,” Huff said, “it’s kind of an experiment they’re doing to see what they can do to have community use for properties they vacate. It’s completely out of the box, so we’re being cautious.”

Huff said it seems to be a “trend” for large companies to demolish antiquated plants, yet retain the property.

Calling it a “starting point,” the evaluation could steer the project in other directions.

As to whether there would be the possibility of a year-’round facility with, say, an ice rink, Huff said someone would need to fund it.

The only comment at the meeting came from Councilman Dan VandenHeede: “I believe the parks board should be brought in on this as it moves forward.”

More liquor licenses

Council Nov. 26 voted 6-1, with David Mann opposed, to adopt a resolution to establish Niles Downtown Development Authority District as a redevelopment project area to deploy more on-premise liquor licenses within the DDA district.

Huff said the DDA had business and job growth statistics to qualify for this state Liquor Control Commission economic development tool.

Huff said liquor licenses can sell for $40,000 to $50,000, but through this incentive five that cannot be transferred outside the designated area will be available for $20,000.

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