Archived Story

Niles officials sound off on county land purchase

Published 11:09am Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Members of the Niles City Council aren’t happy with Berrien County’s recent purchase of 26 acres of land on Napier Avenue in Benton Township.

Five of the eight council members spoke out against the purchase during Monday’s regular meeting and took turns praising Berrien County Commissioner John Klimek for voting against the proposal.

Klimek and Commissioner Mac Elliot were the only two commissioners voting against the purchase, which passed 7-2 Thursday at the county administration building in St. Joseph.

Councilman David Mann was the first at Monday’s meeting to publicly thank Klimek and the individuals who supported Niles. He was also the first to speak during council member reports.

“Thank you for standing up for us,” Mann said.

The land off Napier Avenue will be the future site for the county’s health department and animal control. The whole plan is expected to cost north of $11 million.

Councilman Bill Weimer echoed Mann’s comments, thanking Klimek for his vote even though it didn’t change the outcome.

“North County is going to get a lot of new buildings and I’m terribly disappointed of that,” Weimer said.

Councilman Daniel VandenHeede also thanked Klimek for the vote and described two Niles residents — Jan Personette and Dave Mongoen — as “local heroes” for speaking against the land purchase at the commissioners’ meeting.

“All you can do is try to keep picking away at them,” VandenHeede said. “They’ve bought the property now, but we can still let our thoughts be known of what we’d like to try to keep what we can down here in south county.”

Councilwoman Georgia Boggs said it would be nice if Niles supporters would attend the commissioner meeting April 4 at Niles Charter Township.

Mayor Mike McCauslin and Councilman Tim Skalla also thanked Klimek for his vote.

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