Niles Township approves assessment roll, trail progress advances

NILES TOWNSHIP — Residents of Harrah Road learned Monday night what the official price tag is for a road improvement project that took place last year, and saw the paving of about half a mile of their roads.    

Members of the Niles Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously during their that evening to adopt a resolution for a special assessment district roll for the improvement project. Nineteen parcels will pay a total SAD of $86,581 over a 10-year period.

The cost per parcel was determined to be $4,556.89.

Jim Ringler

The project took place last fall from Phillip Road to Hance Street. The total cost of the project was about $176,000. The township agreed to pay about half of the cost.

Prior to casting their votes, trustees opened the floor for comment during a public hearing. Richard and Dorothy Miller were the only two Harrah Road residents who spoke. They told trustees they were there to see how much they would owe. They also asked about getting one spot of pavement filled in. 

The couple, who live in the 1500 block of Harrah Road, said they were happy to see the road improvement project completed last fall. Before the repairs were made, Dorothy said road conditions were poor.

“Oh, it was terrible,” Dorothy said. “There were potholes everywhere.”

Also on Monday:

Trustees forged ahead with plans for phase two of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail by awarding a tree removal bid to Quality Tree Service of Michigan. The company came in at the lowest bid of $12,939.50 to remove 396 trees from the trail’s planned pathway. The Department of Natural Resources is expected to reimburse the township for one third of the cost. 

There were nine total bidders, with the highest bid from Riverworks Construction, which was more than $95,000. The majority of bids were about $38,000 to $40,000.

“So, $12,939.50 is really a phenomenal bid,” said Treasurer Jim Ringler. “I researched the company today, and they are a legit company that is bonded and insured with high reviews.”

Still, some trustees questioned why the price was so much lower. Trustee Herschel Hoese expressed some apprehension about the bid.

“It kind of concerns me when there is one that low, I will be honest” Hoese said.

The trees will be removed before March 31 in an effort not to disturb the roosting habits of the threatened northern long-eared bat. Project planners were notified last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services that the bats roosting cycle is from April 1 to Oct. 31, so trees cannot be felled.

The trail project was awarded an approximate $300,000 state grant last year. MDOT will contribute about $500,299 to the project. The township will pay about $135,000 in matching funds for the trail.  Trail construction is expected to begin in April or May and finish this year.

• Township trustees unanimously agreed to allocate $10,500 from the utility fund to help a resident on Apple Lane cover damages and repairs to their basement after a township sewer main backed up and flooded the resident’s basement. Trustees said the blockage has been repaired and they do not know what caused it. The blockage occurred between two and three weeks ago, trustees said.

• Township trustees voted unanimously to by a table skirt for the table in the board room so as to hide the wires visible under the table. Trustee Dan Pulaski received a quote for the fabric for $170. Trustees voted to purchase a skirt that would not exceed $200.

• Trustees voted unanimously to permit the township treasurer to negotiate school tax agreements in the Brandywine Community School District, which includes Brandywine schools, Lake Michigan College and Berrien RESA.

• Trustees voted unanimously to approve a quote for $2,860 to have electrical conduit work installed for a board room projector.

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