DPW Updates

Recent Updates
Fall Leaf Collection Has Begun

The Street Department crew will tentatively begin the annual leaf collection program on the third or fourth Monday of October, depending on the rate the leaves are falling. Leaves are collected one ward at a time, rotating the program to begin in a different ward each year. 

Please assist the Street Department crews by following these few simple rules:

  • Rake leaves to the back of the curb and not onto the pavement. Leaves raked into the street can cause flooding problems, create a safety hazard, and hampers snow removal operations (if we experience an early snowfall);
  • Leaves mixed with brush, limbs, trash, ashes, or other debris will not be picked up;
  • Leaves must be raked out in advance of the leaf vacuums. Leaves raked out afterwards will not be picked up;
  • Please move your vehicles to off-street locations when the crews are in your neighborhood, both for your benefit and your neighbor's. Cars parked in the street slow the collection process down significantly and force the crews to leave piles of leaves behind that can not be reached with the equipment;
  • Please do not cover the water meter castings in the boulevard area. This prevents meter readers from taking actual readings and requires them to estimate your water usage.
  • Crews will go around the City at least three complete times, weather permitting. Don't take any chances, rake out as many leaves as possible in advance of the first pick up, since the second and third times around may be halted or delayed by bad weather. Normally the crews work ten hours per day, Monday thru Saturday. The goal is to complete the entire program prior to December 15th.
If early winter weather were to completely shut down the collection program and we are unable to resume it once the weather improves, we may schedule a spring leaf collection program. Assume that there will be NO spring program unless there is an official announcement released by the Department of Public Works. Should residents not be able to rake leaves out in time to be picked up by the City, take leaves to the Southeast Berrien County Landfill, 1540 Mayflower Rd. Buchanan to dispose them.
Limb/Brush Chipping Program
Road Work Ahead!
Construction Sign

The spring, summer and fall months are the times when most road construction projects are completed, placing construction workers at risk every day.  When traveling through construction or Maintenance zones:

PLEASE slow down and remain alert.  YOU may save a life.
Winter Snow Removal Information

With cold winter weather soon to be upon us, now is a good time to offer a few tips that will help you and others get safely through another winter. The City of Niles Street Department has an outstanding snow removal team numbering 12 individuals, but they need your help to accomplish their goal of removing snow from 70 miles of streets, 3 miles of alleys, and 7 municipal parking lots as quickly and safely as possible.

Here are a few tips for winter safety:

  1. To assist snow removal crews, please try to park your vehicles in off street locations during snow or ice events. Weaving in and out of traffic is not only very dangerous for the plow operators, but hampers their ability to clear the entire street.
  2. Do not plow, shovel or blow snow into the street. This is obviously contrary to snow removal plans and is against the law.
  3. Do not plow, shovel or blow snow onto a public sidewalk. The sidewalk is to be kept free of snow and ice and a clear passageway is needed for pedestrians. Piling snow on the walk may force a pedestrian to walk into the street which can result in an injury or death.
  4. If a fire hydrant is located near your home, please keep snow shoveled away from it. Keeping the hydrant visible and accessible to firefighters will improve their ability to respond to a fire in your neighborhood.
  5. If you have an elderly or disabled person living next door, try to assist them with snow removal. Emergency crews (fire, police and ambulance) will have a much easier time in responding to an emergency medical call if the sidewalk and drive are kept clear of snow and ice. It can make a difference between life and death.
  6. Keep snow piles low enough so they do not create a site distance or viewing problem for motorists.
Healthy Household Habits for Clean Water
Michigan Water Quality Survey
Click here to fill out the clean water survey
Past Updates
Before You Proceed...

Before you start a project around the house or business, please keep in mind that you may need to secure a permit from the Department of Public Works for a variety of activities, many of which cost absolutely NOTHING. That's right, FREE.

The DPW issues permits for:

  • Right-of-Way Permit - For performing work in the street right-of-way (FREE! but certain rules do apply). Please keep in mind that if the property is along a state highway, you must secure a permit from the Michigan Department of Transportation Service Center in Coloma.
  • Public Sidewalk Construction (For YOUR PROTECTION, and it's FREE!) - So now you know, in order to construct new or replace existing public sidewalk, you must get a permit. There's no hassle and we inspect the work for YOUR protection.
  • Drive Approach (FREE if along a city street!) - To construct a new drive approach or make changes to the existing approach within the street right-of-way, you must get a permit. No hassle and we offer free advice too! If your driveway is on a state highway in the City of Niles (M-139; M-51; M-60) you must secure a permit from the Michigan Department of Transportation Service Center in Coloma. We will gladly help put you in touch with the appropriate MDOT official.
  • Tree Trimming/Removal of City-owned Trees (FREE!) But keep in mind once again, if a tree is on a state highway it requires a permit from the Michigan Department of Transportation Service Center in Coloma.
  • Refuse Collection Truck (Issued to refuse hauling firms) - Refuse trucks are permitted annually to operate inside the City of Niles and a fee is charged to the refuse hauling firms.
  • Sanitary Sewer Connections - For connection to city sewer. A permit fee is charged - please call for the amount (varies). If the connection is along a state highway, a permit from Michigan Department of Transportation Service Center in Coloma is required.

FOR YOUR PROTECTION, anytime you plan to excavate on public or private property, you MUST call MISS DIG at 811 a minimum of 72 hours prior to starting any excavation work. You simply call and give the address where the work is to be done and provide other information relative to the project. Getting underground utilities located and marked before you dig protects both you and the utility companies and the service is FREE.

Report Water Pollution Immediately

Help protect Michigan's waters and wildlife by reporting any type of water pollution to the Pollution Emergency Alerting System. 

PEAS HOTLINE:  1-800-292-4706

Examples of pollutants to report that need to be cleaned up: leaking automobiles, concrete dumped on the street, paint poured down a drain or any leaky septic systems. When making a report it is important to include the following information in your report:

  • Where the incident occurred
  • Directions to the site
  • Date and time of incident
  • What was deposited
  • Was the substance deposited in the street, alley, river, lake?
  • Give as much descriptive information as possible about the substance that was deposited; color, odor, amount, etc.
  • If you know or suspect who was responsible for the pollution, dumping or discharge you are reporting, please provide as much information as possible, so that they may be contacted.

Important Information to Know:

Berrien County Drain Commissioner
701 Main St. St. Joseph, MI 49085
(269) 983-7111 ext. 8261

Cass County Drain Commissioner
120 N. Broadway Cassopolis, MI 49031
(269) 445-4428

To Report Other Problems
An environmental pollution emergency (defined by the critical materials register) includes tanker accidents, pipeline breaks, releases of hazardous substances, oil, salt, or other polluting materials. If this occurs call the PEAS Hotline at 1-800-292-4706For extreme emergencies such as spills involving fires or explosion hazards, call 911.

Silverbrook Cemetery... Looking Good

Silverbrook Cemetery is looking much nicer these days, thanks to the efforts of the volunteer group, Friends of Silverbrook Cemetery, and cemetery employees. Pictured is the main office building at the Cherry Street entrance. The building has been recently repainted and refurbished. For more information on Silverbrook Cemetery go to the Silverbrook Cemetery page on this website or to learn how you can become a part of the Friends of Silverbrook Cemetery go to their website at www.friendsofsilverbrook.org.

Silverbrook Cemetery
Visit Silverbrook Cemetery today. But, please remember that winter decorations, artificial wreaths and flowers are only allowed between November 15th and March 30th. If not removed, all winter decorations are discarded by cemetery staff on April 1st. Also, no pets are ever allowed in the cemetery. Please show your respect by abiding by this rule. A complete set of cemetery rules are available in the cemetery office or on the Silverbrook Cemetery page of this website.

Your Patience and Understanding Needed

A continued tight budget situation caused by lower than anticipated gas and weight tax revenues and reduced state revenue sharing funds, both of which are needed to support City of Niles street maintenance operations, has resulted in a reduction of three full-time Street Department positions or 20% of the workforce over the past 5 years. The loss of these jobs will likely have an adverse effect on snow removal operations this winter, particularly when we get hit with a heavy snowfall. Through the years the Street Department has earned for themselves a very good reputation for their prompt, efficient snow removal operations, and the workers will work just as hard as they always have to clear snow from streets, alleys and parking lots, but there just aren't as many of them these days.

We are asking for your PATIENCE and UNDERSTANDING. We'll get to your street as quickly as we possibly can, but if we get a heavy late evening or early morning snowfall, there is a strong likelihood that you could be driving your car through some heavy snow before we are able to get to your street.

No Yard Waste in the Street

Traveling around our city one can see numerous locations where residents clean their yards, driveways and sidewalks and then blow, sweep or rake the yard waste into the street. The yard waste normally consists of grass, leaves, and dirt, but can also include trash such as glass and paper. This is a violation of city ordinance and is therefore illegal. Many times this material ends up traveling through the storm drains to the St. Joseph River , or it could end up in front of a neighbor’s house which becomes a problem for the neighbor, or it can even become a traffic hazard.

The city does not currently provide a grass or dirt collection program, however, the Southeast Berrien County Landfill on Mayflower Rd. offers a yard waste disposal site which is very easy to access and there is no cost.

Wood Mulch
Wood mulch is available year round to area residents at no charge. The wood mulch is the product of the brush chipping program. Ideal for planting areas, walk paths, etc., the mulch may be picked up at the Street Department garage, 1815 Eagle St., located directly behind Ring Lardner Middle School. Hours are 8:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday thru Friday. The Street Department will not normally load nor provide tools to load the mulch, however, in April of each year, a Saturday morning is set aside for the Street Department to load mulch, at no charge, into trucks and trailers. Details are released to area newspapers and local radio stations announcing the service and date. The picture at the right shows a street department vehicle removing mulch from a large pile.

The City of Niles reserves the right to limit quantities. Residents are reminded that State Law requires that ALL LOADS MUST BE COVERED, therefore loads must be covered before leaving the Street Department property.

Welcome to the Niles Skateboard Park

The NILES SKATE PARK is located on Front St. (M-139) along the St. Joseph River just north of downtown Niles and is open 7 days per week in the spring, summer and fall with the exception of inclement weather days. The park is for the use of skateboards and rollerblades only and there is no admittance fee. For the protection of users it is recommended that proper safety equipment, including helmet, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads be worn at all times.

Here are a few interesting facts about the park:

  • Opened: April 1, 2003
  • Size: 15,900 Square Feet
  • Primary Construction Material: Concrete
  • Construction/Material Facts:
  • 6,000 Cubic Yards of unsuitable material removed and replaced with suitable material (washed gravel and sand)
  • 175 Cubic Yards of concrete flatwork, walls and walks
  • 215 Cubic Yards of Shotcrete
  • 520 Lineal Feet of Coping and Grind Rails Material
  • ½ Mile of Caulked Expansion and Control Joints
  • 11.3 Tons of Reinforcing Steel
Niles Area Traffic Count Map
Annual Tree & Stump Removal

The City of Niles removes dead, dying and dangerous trees from street rights-of-way and other city-owned properties in the fall/winter of each year. A survey of the entire City is performed in August and September and a record made of the type of tree, location, and size. The list is compiled, specifications written, and the work is then put out for bid. The successful bidder is then required to remove the trees within a specified period of time, with completion normally by late winter.

In the spring of each year, the stumps are removed by the stump grinding method. The stump grindings are removed and the area restored with topsoil and grass seed.

Calcium Chloride "Bites the Dust"
Each spring an outside contractor will be applying a liquid calcium chloride dust control material on all five miles of unpaved roads in the City. The application helps keep the dust down over the majority of the spring and summer months. With the application normally completed by late May, depending on weather conditions, the material remains effective for approximately 4 months.
Parks and Recreation Briefs

A 16,000 square foot concrete skate park is located on the west side of Front St. just north of Howard St.. The park is open to the public in the spring, summer and fall and there is NO CHARGE to use it. It is recommended that protective equipment be used.

There are six large play structures located in various parks in the city, ranging in cost from $40,000 to $75,000 each when they were constructed. The structures are located at Riverfront Park (behind Wonderland Cinema), Eastside Park (17th and Sycamore), Southside Park (15th and Silverbrook), Clevenger Park (Fifth and Cherry), Cass Street Park (8th and Cass) and Cable Street Park (1400 block of Michigan). Give your kids a treat and take them to one of these nice parks for a fun time.

Picnic facilities are located at most city parks, with shelters available at Riverfront Park near the dam on Bond St., Riverfront Park south of Broadway at the boat ramp area, Plym Park, Island Park, Southside Park, Clevenger Park, and Eastside Park. Shelters are available on a first come, first serve basis or by reserving the pavilion for $25.00. Contact DPW at 269.683.4700 ext 3061 for more information on reservations.

The City completed renovations to the eight Plym Park tennis courts in 2004 at a cost of over $80,000. The courts are available for use at NO CHARGE.

There are three boat ramps available to boating enthusiasts wishing to meander up and down the St. Joseph River. Ramps are located on Bond St. just south (upstream) of the dam, Riverfront Park south of Broadway, and Marmont St. near the wastewater treatment plant. The City of Niles encourages you to come out and enjoy all that your city parks have to offer you and your family!

Animal Ordinance Requires Owner's Control and Responsibility
Owners of animals in the City should be aware of an animal ordinance that requires them to keep their animal on a leash not exceeding 6' in length and also requires them to clean up and properly dispose of animal waste, whether on public or private property. Those people guilty of not having their animal on a 6' (or less) leash and/or failure to clean up after their animal are subject to prosecution.   One area of concern where animal waste has been a serious problem is along the riverfront trail, where animal owners, mostly dog owners, have neglected to clean up after their dogs, leaving an unpleasant mess behind. "Mutt Mitts", which are plastic glove bags, are sometimes available along the trail for use in disposing of the waste; however, animal owners should always be prepared to clean up the mess, with or without "Mutt Mitts". Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters. When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.

Please do NOT feed the wildlife in the local parks.  This leads to large e coli issues in the local water bodies.
Tree Planting on City Property

Throughout the year the Department of Public Works receives requests from property owners, seeking permission to plant a tree in the street right-of-way. The DPW will issue permission to property owners to plant a tree, provided a few simple rules are followed:

  • The property owner must call MISS DIG to make sure the proposed tree location does not conflict with underground utilities in the area.
  • The property owner will plant only trees which are permitted by the DPW (Maple, Linden, Locust, Redbud, etc. to name a few) and will not plant those which are prohibited (Pine, Spruce, Cedar, etc. to name a few).
  • The property owner agrees to water the tree, as needed, at their expense.
  • While the City is interested in allowing a tree to be planted at the property owner's preferred location, the City of Niles reserves the right to make the final decision on the location.