Third Thursday moving forward

Niles merchants have been given the go ahead to close a portion of downtown streets as needed for their upcoming Third Thursday events.

On Monday, the Niles City Council voted unanimously to allow merchants to close

Second Street from Main to Sycamore and Third Street from Main to Sycamore anytime a special event is scheduled.

Lisa Croteau, Niles DDA/Main Street program manager, said while the event will happen on the third Thursday of each month beginning May 19, it won’t always coincide with a special event that needs a road closure.

“They are just proposing closing the roads as necessary,” she said, adding that it is possible that the roads would be closed every Third Thursday if the promotion is a success.

For instance, Croteau said the Niles-based Paddletek Company plans to host a Pickleball tournament on Second Street during the first Third Thursday event May 19.

Some council members expressed concern over the cost of closing the roads, estimated at $491 per event.

Mayor Mike McCauslin asked if merchants would be willing to pay the cost of closing the roads.

Croteau said Paddletek intends to use the pickleball tournament as a fundraiser to pay for any expenses for Third Thursdays, including road closures.

“Our goal is to have this be a self-supported event with some kind of fundraiser and pitching in from the merchants,” she said. “Right now it is just really wonderful that the majority of them want to participate and do something independently together.”

The Third Thursdays promotion was spearheaded by a group of downtown merchants working together to showcase the city.

The intent is for participating businesses to offer their own specials, promotions and/or events on the evenings of the third Thursday of each month.

Croteau said 85 to 90 percent of downtown merchants are in support of the promotion and that close to 70 percent are participating.

She said many other communities, including South Bend, have had success with similar promotions.

“It is a real cool event because everybody does their own thing, just at the same time,” she said.

Also Monday:

• During public comment, a resident asked about the lack of progress on a project to demolish the vacant and deteriorating National Standard facility on Wayne Street.

City Manager Ric Huff said Heico Corp. — the parent company of National Standard — entered into an agreement for environmental remediation and demolition of the property with a company that has since walked off the job.

“That is why it (progress) stopped,” he said.

Huff said Heico is now in a legal dispute with the company that is slowing down the demolition process.

• Introduced a proposed amendment to an ordinance regarding rummage sales. Changes include adding an extra day (from three days to four) to the permit and allowing residents to host sales on a driveway in addition to a garage.

• Scheduled a public hearing for April 25 to receive comments regarding placing a special assessment on the August ballot for Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service.

• Approved a request by the American Legion in Niles to host the annual Memorial Day Parade on May 30.

• Approved placing a proposal on the August ballot to renew the Dial-A-Ride Transportation millage.

• Approved an agreement with the Police Officers Labor Council to include a 2 percent raise for police.

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