Niles Daily Star’s top 10 stories of 2013: Stories 5-7Published 8:38am Friday, December 27, 2013
7. Ready Theatre renovation continues
While the newly renovated Ready Theatre isn’t ready to open yet, Niles residents are excited about how it will turn out when it is finally finisheda.
Niles got a sneak peak inside the building during an after party for the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival in August.
Then, in October, a new marquee sign was placed on the front of the theatre, heightening the anticipation. At that time, Carol Moore, president of Ready Theatre, Inc., said they still do not have a date set for its opening.
In the summer of 2012 renovation work began in earnest at the theater, which had been dormant since the mid 2000s. Moore said in September 2012 that her goal was to open the Ready as a venue for movies and live entertainment.
6. Napier land purchase
The Berrien County Commissioners voted 7-2 in March to purchase land on Napier Avenue in Benton Township that could one day become a county government campus.
There was opposition to the plan — particularly from residents in the south part of the county — as some were concerned the land was located too far north and not centrally located.
The land, purchased for $1.9 million, includes a 61,000-square-foot auto dealership building, a 153,000-square-foot parking lot and undeveloped land on 26 acres. The county also owns nearly 50 acres located next to the land, which could provide the space one day to house all county facilities. Along with the purchase of the Napier property, the county also voted to build a new animal control facility on the property for $2.8 million; renovate the county jail for $3.9 million; and consolidate the five health departments in Benton Harbor into one location at Napier for $2.2 million.
The total cost of these projects is approximately $11 million.
5. Niles sports complex
The Niles City Council hit a home run in November when it worked out a deal for the creation of a multi-use recreational facility at the site of the former Tyler Refrigeration plant on Lake Street.
The $400,000 facility, which will contain multiple softball fields, will be paid for in full by Carrier Corp., the company that owns Tyler Refrigeration.
City officials have said the complex will cost taxpayers nothing. The city’s parks and recreation department will create an entity to oversee every aspect of the sports complex, from maintenance to operation to supervision.
Upkeep of such a facility was estimated at $30,000 annually. Making the sports complex pay-for-play would cover those costs. Many touted it as a great deal for the city as Tyler Refrigeration has remained closed since 2009 when more than 400 people were left without work.
The land is useful again.