Niles Township tables feasibility study on new town hall location

Published 2:29 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

NILES CHARTER TOWNSHIP — Township leaders have delayed the decision to hire a consulting firm regarding a proposed location for a new township hall.

The Niles Charter Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously to table the resolution authorizing an engagement letter with architecture, design, and survey consulting firm Wightman Monday night at Township Hall.

If approved, Wightman would have conducted a feasibility study on a proposed location for a new township hall on township property located behind the current hall, 320 Bell Road. The feasibility study would have analyzed the features of that piece of land including potential challenges for building a hall, as well as a projected cost for the new building. The feasibility study would cost approximately $16,000.

“I think from a lot of respects it’s an ideal site because, number one, we’ve been here forever and everybody knows where it’s at,” said Township Treasurer Jim Ringler. “We think that there’s enough land to do it all. We may have to relocate some other buildings but (this study) will put all the numbers together. It’s gonna take some cost engineering to figure out.”

While Trustee Dick Cooper was not opposed to the feasibility study or the proposed location, he said he believes the board should have more time to weigh its options before committing money to study one location. Supervisor Marge Durm-Hiatt mentioned that the township owns land on 3rd Street, Niles-Buchanan Road and other areas that could be potential township hall locations.

“I’m not against this and I’m not against the site or anything else,” he said. “I’m against moving forward until we have a plan that we can follow.”

The township will host a public workshop at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 17 to further discuss the engagement letter with Wightman as well as the ideal location for the new township hall.

A new township hall has been a point of emphasis for the board after evaluating its current township hall building condition, size, location and parking options and to also prepare for the future growth of the Township that now has the largest population in Berrien County. 

In September 2022, the township terminated its purchase agreement with United Federal Credit Union regarding the credit union’s Niles corporate office facility located at 2102 South 11th St.

UFCU opened the facility in March 2015, serving as a regional administrative office. With the flexibility of a hybrid/remote working environment provided to some employees, the credit union was in a position to help the township with its need for a new township hall.

Township Treasurer Jim Ringler said at the time that the initial purchase agreement was predicated on the second floor of the UFCU building being leased out. The township had a tenant on board with the lease that had backed out, which led to the township terminating the contract.