Niles sets bike trail, tree-trimming rules

NILES — City council on Wednesday approved a set of rules for the Niles portion of the Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail to give police the means to enforce violations along the trail.

Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said the city has received complaints in the past about people sleeping in the pavilion restrooms overnight. When police responded to those calls, there wasn’t much they could do.

“There were no rules to enforce,” Mientkiewicz said.

Now, trail users and citizens will have to follow a list of 13 rules. Violators will be guilty of a minor misdemeanor for the first offense.

Rules include keeping the trail hours, which are dawn to dusk, yielding to traffic intersections, and keeping motor vehicles, alcohol and controlled substances off the trail. They also prohibit littering, parking illegally, trespassing on private property adjacent to the trail, hunting and fishing, and feeding wildlife.

Mientkiewicz said “99.9 percent” of the rules mimic those used by the Trumbull County MetroParks.

In other business, council approved an internal tree-trimming policy that outlines the specifics of when the tree department, a subdivision of the light department, should trim trees.

Mientkiewicz said the city already had a tree ordinance, but this policy acts as an addendum.

The policy states the tree department will be responsible for trimming overgrown foliage to provide a minimum 10-foot and maximum 15-foot clearance. They will not remove trees or stumps on private property. Trees that pose a public safety concern must be brought to the attention of the tree department.

Foliage around stop signs and other caution signs also will be trimmed at the department’s discretion. The department is responsible for removing trees on city-owned property.

Mientkiewicz said the primary purpose of the tree department is to manage foliage that may obstruct electric utility lines.

Council also:

• Determined a property owner is responsible for repairs and maintenance to the lateral tie-in, or the pipe that runs from the house to the city water supply. Councilman Al Cantola voted no;

• Amended ordinance 149.10, which outlines payment for city utility services under various circumstances and the penalty for failure to pay bills;

• Approved bridge inspection program services through the Ohio Department of Transportation at no cost to the city;

• Approved a $4,387.36 payment to Jack Doheny Companies for repairs to the three-year-old city vacuum truck. The truck was no longer covered by warranty;

• Approved the sale of a 1999 Chevrolet C/K 3500 series truck by internet auction on GovDeals.com;

• Approved changing the date for the city’s monthly bank-to-book reconciliation from the 11th of the month to the 15th of the month;

• Approved the purchase of a $7,495 thermal-imaging camera to replace a camera damaged in the Scott Avenue fatal house fire in May;

• Approved applications for two public improvement grants from the Ohio Public Works Commission for improvements to Beaver Avenue and West Park / East State Street;

• Approved the agreement with the Niles City School District for a school resource officer. The school will pay for one officer at $59,430 for the 2019-20 fiscal year, said Auditor Giovanne Merlo. The school also will directly hire a second officer four-hours a day;

• Appropriated $35,000 for the Difford Drive waterline replacement project;

• Approved changes to the vacation schedule for all full-time, nonunion, nonelected city employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2018. After six months from hire date, such employees will be entitled to 40 hours of vacation per year, and hours will increase on a step program at two, five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years. Employees with 25 or more years of service will be entitled to 200 hours of vacation per year;

• Had a second reading for appropriating $20,000 for maintenance to the Niles Greenway Bike Trail;

• Heard from fire Chief Dave Danielson the department received a $1,200 grant for emergency equipment and will be putting together a medical bag for the fire SUV so all trucks will be equipped with medical equipment;

• Heard from law director Phil Zuzulo that a legal opinion says there is no conflict of interest in Councilman Ryan McNaughton holding a position on the Trumbull County Board of Developmental Disabilities;

• Welcomed Dawn Slusher to the auditor department as the head of human resources. Slusher was chosen from a pool of 15 applicants, said Merlo, and she has 20 years HR experience.