Niles Township submits petition for Bell Road Drain maintenance, improvements

Published 1:04 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2022

NILES TOWNSHIP — Drainage issues that have long plagued portions of Niles Township will soon be addressed.

The Niles Township Board of Trustees unanimously moved to submit a petition to the Berrien County Drain Commissioner requesting maintenance and improvement work on the Bell Road Drain.

The proposed improvements include a drain extension placed in the area behind the Holiday Inn Express and Suites, 1000 Moore Dr., and connected to the main drain on Bell Road. The township board believes the proposed maintenance and improvements will alleviate drainage issues and are necessary for the public health in Niles Charter Township.

“Hopefully we get going on that because it’s been a problem,” said Township Clerk Terry Eull. “All of the water comes off the highway and the businesses have no water retention.”

The petition will be sent to the drain commission, which will decide whether or not the project moves forward. Niles Charter Township will be liable for an assessment at large against it for a percentage of the cost of the proposed maintenance and improvement.

Several local businesses are hopeful that the project will receive the green light. Erik Fiskars, an architect working on the Spectrum Health Niles campus project, said the proposed drainage would be very beneficial to the stability of the new medical facility, which has a basement mechanical room for electrical systems and more located near the problem area.

“It’s all right there and it’s dangerously close to that retention pond,” he said. “We started looking very hard for an outflow because we can’t have it back into the basement. We can’t pump it fast enough. The basement is the umbilical cord for that clinic, so anything you can do to allow excess water to get away from us, we’d appreciate it.”

Township Treasurer Jim Ringler expressed interest in seeing the township’s drains turned over to the drain commission.

“If that happened, they would be part of the new drain district and then we wouldn’t have to literally take care of that on our own,” he said. “I don’t see the downside of that. Our property there, where all the ballparks are, has been a collection area where it all ends up, the overflows and stuff like that. It’s good that we have a drain system back there that could end up draining out to there, but I just don’t see any reason for us as a township to own it.”