With 2020 in the rearview mirror, Niles city officials look toward 2021

NILES — With 2020 almost in the rearview mirror, Niles city officials are looking forward to 2021 with goals to achieve even more.

Four members of leadership in the city of Niles, including Mayor Nick Shelton, weighed in on what they most look forward to in 2021.

Niles Utilities Manager Jeff Dunlap hopes for good weather in 2021.

“[It] will allow us to complete the Pucker Street Dam removal and Dowagiac River restoration,” Dunlap said.

Niles Main Street Downtown Development Authority Director of Marketing and Administration Lisa Croteau commended the community on coming together in 2020.

“The circumstances were beyond our control, and you do what you can do,” Croteau said. “Both business and the community have done really well. I look forward to an awesome 2021. I think it has the opportunity to be a really magnificent year if we can get through COVID-19.”

Niles Public Safety Director Jim Millin said simply he is hoping for a better 2021.

Shelton acknowledged 2020 was a challenging year.

“While I don’t believe we will return to ‘normal’ anytime soon, I am hopeful that 2021 will allow us to recalibrate and refocus our efforts and priorities,” he said.

Shelton said toward the end of 2020, a priority for the city was keeping the parks clean.

“City Administrator [Ric] Huff and I agree that renewing our focus on parks in the spring of 2021 is important,” Shelton said. “We are fortunate to live in a community with a beautiful riverfront and beautiful park system. With our limited resources, we will do our best to make them more of a focal point of our city.”

Shelton spoke of the limited budget the city has to work with, and commended Huff and the city’s staff for keeping the budget “in check” during the pandemic, with consumers spending less and the state reducing revenues.

“We must continue to be fiscally responsible in the new year,” he said.

Shelton looks forward to new developments and businesses coming to the city in 2021, and seeing further progress with other progress.

“The Post Office Apartments are set to open in early 2021 and will bring many new faces to downtown Niles,” Shelton said.

The downtown Niles area has become a focal point to make it more appealing for people to come and spend time with the businesses, including attractions like The NODE.

“We are doing our best to find ways to support [downtown businesses],” Shelton said.

Just outside of downtown, the mayor sees many other business opportunities cropping up as well.

“I am looking forward to the opening of several other businesses on the S. 11th Street corridor including new restaurants, a new provisioning center and more. I am also encouraged by the agreement to demolish the Niles Inn, which will create an opportunity for a new business to emerge on S. 11th Street.”

Shelton also looks forward to seeing more  progress on the $1 billion powerplant, InDeck.

In 2020, beloved annual events were severely altered or canceled due to COVID-19 mandates and precautions. In 2021, Shelton hopes the community can come together safely again to celebrate throughout the year.

“When it becomes safe to do so, I am looking forward to more events that will draw both citizens and neighbors to the city of Niles,” Shelton said.

In his day to day life working for the city, Shelton said he also looks forward to working with the city council as they work on policies for the residents of Niles.

“I look forward to interfacing with community members, business owners and southwest Michigan leaders,” Shelton said. “I know that when Niles thrives, it helps the rest of southwest Michigan. I know when the rest of southwest Michigan thrives, so will Niles.”

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