Some concerned with change to Mission Hills road project plan

There is some confusion among Niles Township residents, township officials and the Berrien County Road Commission as to what type of roadwork will be done in the Mission Hills Subdivision after the township and subdivision residents agreed to pay to fix the roads through the creation of a special assessment district.

Louis Csokasy, director of the Berrien County Road Commission, said a recent engineering assessment of the roads led his office to determine that placing an asphalt overlay on top of the existing road would be the best course of action.

The problem with that, Township Clerk Terry Eull said, is that the road commission originally proposed that it would grind up the existing road before placing the hard surface on top.

Eull said township officials and Mission Hills residents were under the impression this was going to happen when they agreed to split the cost of the $300,000 road project.

Eull expressed his frustration upon hearing the change at Monday’s regular meeting of the Niles Township Board of Trustees.

“What they want to do will not hold up. They are putting it on crumbling roads and it will not hold up,” he said. “It is ridiculous that they are doing it at this point and time.”

When reached by phone Tuesday morning, Csokasy confirmed that the road commission originally planned to grind up the road before placing the asphalt overlay, but the recent engineering assessment changed their minds.

“Our engineer looked at it, came to that conclusion and I supported his conclusion,” said Csokasy, adding that the change was explained to Mission Hills residents at an April 19 meeting.

Csokasy said the road commission rarely grinds up roads for its asphalt projects and that the cost of grinding the roads — approximately $15,000 — did not factor into their decision.

“We determined it was better not to (grind the roads),” Csokasy said. “This was not a financial decision.

“We just did not want to disturb the sub-base that was there.”

However, because of the confusion, Csokasy said the road commission would be willing to grind the roads if the Mission Hills residents want to do it.

“We aren’t recommending it, but we will in fact do that,” he said.

Mission Hills resident Rich Appleget said he and other neighborhood residents would be meeting with Csokasy today to discuss the road project.

“We just want to do what is best for the roads and Mission Hills residents,” he said.

Csokasy said the road commission plans to begin construction in July.

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