City of Niles residents working to keep local park

NOW: City of Niles residents working to keep local park

NILES Mich.--- A bid for the Island Park's bridge was approved 7 to 1 in a Niles city council meeting Monday.

With the parks restoration in question by the city, people in the community weighed in to protect the area that residents say they hold dear to them.

Island Park's bridge closed after the major flood back in 2018. Now locals want to see it brought back to life.

Residents are left looking at the once beautiful park from a distance.

Dennie Isbrecht and her husband have lived near Island Park for 32 years combined. Isbrecht said she misses seeing little kids fishing along the bridge.

“A lot of times it’s their first fishing trip and they would be so excited and have their little poles,” said Isbrecht.

Long time Niles residents say the park holds memories dear to their hearts and they believe through volunteering and raising funds the damaged bridge and park can be revitalized.

“Fundraisers would be the most logical based on the fact that the city will have some issues with the cost of the island,” said Chad Sabat.

Debris was left behind from the record setting February 2018 floods. Equipment from the park still has to be replaced as it washed away by the raging St. Joseph River.

Photos of the bridge and Park area posted on Facebook by Niles Mayor Nick Shelton shows the damage. The mayor posted that it could cost roughly over $250,000 for the Island Park repairs overall.

However another city official says the costs are still undetermined. The city did get an estimated cost from engineers of about $63,000 for bridge repairs, but that does not include costs for the park.

One resident said he remembers running around the park along the bridge. His biggest hope is that it opens back up for people to enjoy it like he did as a kid.

“Being from Niles as a child and growing up here I’d like to see it come back,” said Chad Sabat.

City officials told ABC57 they are working with various organizations and looking into options to open the park. In addition, once bids are received the council will review the response and consider whether or not to award a repair contract.  

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