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Niles park board begins plans on future projects

NILES — The Niles Park Board will be reviewing surveys from recent years of what residents want in the city’s parks, as well as reviewing needed work as it compiles a list of projects and goals for upcoming years.

The three-member board and park Director Mark Pallante plan to review the project ideas and lists at the next meeting set 3:45 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Niles Wellness Center.

Officials said they need a plan for future park projects for 2022, the next five years and future years for grant applications.

“What do we need to do, and what do we want to do, (is) to come up with ideas for the future of the parks. We need to see what grants will be available for certain projects,” Pallante said.

Pallante said the board members will prioritize projects and see what costs are involved, and if any grant money can be obtained to cover costs. He said some grants are specifically for certain projects such as park restroom improvements and upgrades.

Pallante said the board can receive assistance from Healthy Community Living grants from the Trumbull County Combined Health Department for handicapped-accessible playground equipment and swing sets and pickleball courts to promote activities in the parks.

Officials said they also can reach out to Youngstown State University for grant application assistance. Pallante said there also could be funds available from foundations.

Board member John Yuhasz said pandemic recovery dollars to the city may be able to used for health and wellness-related projects.

Board member Dana Butto said: “We can brainstorm ideas for the next year and then the next five years.”

Yuhasz said the board can use the 723 survey results from the community and build a list from that. That list included residents wanting a splash pad.

Yuhasz suggested board members visit other communities’ parks such as Austintown to see what they have.

Projects being discussed include repairing the fishing pier at Kennedy Park, filling in cracks at the basketball courts at Kennedy Park, outdoor sand volleyball courts at Kennedy Park, nature trails, new fencing by pickleball courts and portable grills.

Improvements done this year have included new weight room equipment at the wellness center and storywalk at Stevens Park in cooperation with McKinley Memorial Library.

Pallante said repairs are needed to the air conditioning at the wellness center as it is not working in some sections and the air conditioning at the Stevens Park cabin. Bids are being secured to repair both systems.

Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz had told the board the paperwork for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant for restroom work at Kennedy Park has been completed and submitted. He said park improvement funds are available for the restrooms if the grant doesn’t come through.

Mientkiewicz said he also is looking at grant funds for constructing two restrooms at Waddell Park. One restroom would replace the current one located near the small pavilion and the other near the bocce courts on the other side of the park.

Law Director Phil Zuzolo said the 1-mill park levy that is up for renewal in November can be used only for park-related items.

The 1-mill renewal levy can be used to support the programs, facilities and equipment of the city’s parks and recreation for a five-year period. The levy would generate $255,451 annually, the same amount as the existing measure.

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