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Niles seeks funds for demolition

Plans to remove 2 buildings

NILES — City council has approved applying for matching state grant dollars from the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization program to be used for demolishing vacant buildings in downtown Niles.

Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said council has approved seeking the dollars with the grant application to be submitted by Jan. 31. He said the grant will require a 25 percent share from the city.

He said getting the buildings at the corner of South Main and West State streets taken down is part of the city’s efforts for downtown revitalization.

“This is the next step to proceed with getting an eyesore in the city’s downtown taken down. It needs to be demolished. It has been vacant for years. We have a revitalization plan to improve the downtown area,” Mientkiewicz said.

Mientkiewicz said council also entered into a donation agreement. Owners of the two properties wish to donate them to the city contingent on the awarding of the grant funds for the demolition.

Officials said the Ohio Department of Development offers grant funding through brownfield demolition grants.

Mientkiewicz said what city officials want to do with these demolitions is similar to what Warren plans for the former St. Joseph Hospital building off Tod Avenue NW. Currently the city is seeking quotes on what total demolition costs will be and what grant amount will be needed.

Niles officials have worked with Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership.

At one time the site offered an old theater, Reisman’s furniture store and a pool hall.

Mientkiewicz said once taken down city officials will work with the Niles Community Improvement Corporation on development of the land for retail, outdoor entertainment / recreation area or additional parking.

He said nothing at this point has been decided.

OPEN CITY BUILDING

Also at the Jan. 19 council meeting, council approved allowing the public access to the Niles Administration Building through the south side entrance starting March 1.

Council will require appropriate security and safety protocols to be in place including a full-time police officer and hand-held metal detector, appropriate pandemic safeguards and other safety protocols.

Currently, the public may enter the building on the west side entrance and individuals need to press a buzzer to speak to employees of different departments. There is no access to the rest of building. This has been in place since March 2020 when the pandemic began.

Those entering the building are required to wear a mask.

Mientkiewicz said plans are to add on to the west side of the building and create a new council chambers area.

He said the addition will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and also have security. Bids will also be sought for the project.

Last October, council approved contracting with Phillips / Sekanick Architects Inc. for the design and architectural services for creating a multipurpose meeting room at the administration building.

Mientkiewicz said plans are to have a 1,500-square-foot council chambers / meeting room to be a permanent place to have council meetings.

The firm will design the proposed room and will receive 6 percent of the total project cost.

Officials have said while they appreciate being able to meet in other locations of the city, a permanent location for council to meet is needed. Council has been meeting at the high school auditorium; previously council had used the municipal court space.

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