Spring cleaning begins at Niles parks

NILES – Spring is coming, and the parks are getting a refresh.

The city of Niles owns more than 20 parks throughout the city limits. Many will be seeing some maintenance attention in the coming weeks.

Contractors can already be seen giving Riverfront Park a general cleanup for the coming warmer weather in Niles. Greenery is being cut back. Views of the river are being opened up. Trash is being collected, and playgrounds will get fresh safety surfacing.

“The revitalization will help rejuvenate the parks and provide citizens with a clean, fun and safe atmosphere to enjoy their downtime while also observing COVID-19 guidelines,” said a release from the city.

The city’s parks contractors, M.A.A.C. Properties, have begun the process at Riverfront Park, near the Amtrak bridge.

“We are required to maintain a vegetative buffer [to the St. Joseph River],” said Niles Department of Public Works Director Joe Ray. “We do need grass and low-growing plants to block [debris] from entering the river. We try to hold off and wait every few years to do more aggressive trim or cut.”

Ray said the grass near the river still will need to stand about a foot tall.

“We are doing a little more in-depth trimming,” Ray said. “There are some things we will end up removing and grass seeding to make it look cleaner.”

The riverbanks are not the only parts of the parks receiving maintenance.

Play structures will be getting new safety surfacing, or wooden ground mulch, after April 15.

“It’s ground in a way that it shouldn’t have sharp edges,” Ray said.

The safety surfacing will provide a softer, and safer, surface for children to play on.

The mulch will not become available to the city until mid-month, but soon after it will be installed at the play structures around the city.

“I surveyed every park that has play structures that require a safety surfacing material underneath them,” Ray said. “Those are all going to be shored up, so they’ll have the proper amount.”

The structures themselves will be tightened up and maintained as needed.

Litter and trash in the parks are being addressed currently by the contractors.

“The biggest thing is trash. Some of [the parks] are really bad,” Ray said.

The contractors begin their work with the city in April and continue through October. The cleanup being done currently will help get the parks back into a more appealing condition from the wear and tear of the fall and winter months, Ray said.

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