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Niles OKs plan to enhance quality of life

NILES — City council has given its approval for a plan to provide a safe, accessible and attractive transportation network to enhance the quality of life for its residents.

Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said the goal of the active transportation plan is to provide updated and safe infrastructure for biking, walking and public transportation. He said it also focuses on trying to entice and encourage activity among residents.

The plan covers ways to improve and upgrade roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, bike-friendly businesses, lighting, bike paths and bike trails.

Mientkiewicz said plans are being made for the bike trail located in the city, known as the Niles Greenway, with plans for phase four to expand the trail to connect Niles to Warren.

“That will be the last missing link between Lake Erie, through Niles, all the way to southern Ohio,” he said.

Mientkiewicz said the plan is a means to get more people active in the community through biking, walking and jogging, and also using public transportation to link people from their neighborhoods to the downtown area and the Eastwood Mall, as well as grocery stores, the library and schools.

“Before you can seek any grant funding in relation to this type of infrastructure, such as Safe Routes to Schools, you have to have a comprehensive plan in place. The plan was a yearlong process. It was free to us through a grant from the Trumbull County Combined Health District,” he said.

Mientkiewicz said the plan was the first step needed to proceed with seeking grants for crosswalks, sidewalks, road upgrades and other improvements.

He said any grants awarded will be used for signage, safety enhancements and bike racks.

Council members said the plan is designed to meet the needs of all users, including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, emergency responders and transit providers.

Officials said the goals of the plan are to promote a more healthy and livable community for people of all ages, and to create a place in the city where walking and biking is safe, convenient and enjoyable by all.

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