City plans for streets get good reviews

Published 3:05 am Wednesday, January 21, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- City and downtown officials held an open house on Tuesday morning from 10 a.m. to noon to showcase the final design plans for the downtown streetscape.
The streetscape project will include the areas from Main to Sycamore on Front Street and from Front to Fifth Street on Main Street.
The open house featured a sketch of the plan for the existing budget and a plan that included future build-out opportunities. Representatives from the Troyer Group, the firm responsible for working on the design of the streetscape, were on hand to answer questions.
Kent Schumacher, engineer from the Troyer Group, said bidding on the project will begin in April with construction to start in May.
Schumacher said once construction begins, it should be completed within four or five months.
Some items that were originally included in the plan such as benches, drinking fountains and flag poles have been left out because of budget concerns.
Aldred said these items can easily be added to the streetscape as build-out options somewhere down the line when funding is available.
She said they decided on leaving the benches out of the initial plan because there will already be seating available along the sides of the planters.
Tim Batton, a member of the pilot committee for streetscape design and executive director of Greater Niles Community Development Corporation, said he is excited by the new curving design of the sidewalks.
Ted Majerek, owner of Majerek's, thinks one of the important aspects of the downtown renovation will be the installation of a sprinkler system because it will allow plants to grow with little or no maintenance.
One of the original plans was to include angle parking on Main Street, but due to concerns from the Michigan Department of Transportation, the city has decided to stick with parallel parking.
Batton said MDOT did not forbid the use of angled parking, but they did strongly recommend against it.
Having angle parking on Main Street would require drivers to back out of their parking spaces and MDOT was concerned it may be a safety issue on a busy road that was on a hill.
The exclusion of angle parking will also end up saving money for the project because it would have required trimming down the curbs.
Aldred pointed out some of the aspects of this plan could potentially change before construction begins, but the basic concept will remain the same.
She said the overall design and implementation process has moved quickly and smoothly because the city knew what it wanted before the Troyer Group was brought in.
If you were unable to attend yesterday's open house, there will be a similar meeting for the public on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the city council's chamber at 16 S. Third St.