Niles named Certified Local Government for historic preservation

NILES — Historic preservation is now a certified part of the Niles landscape.

On Tuesday, Niles was named one of Michigan’s Certified Local Governments for historic preservation.

The CLG program works with both the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Offices.

Niles has joined just 30 other communities in the state of Michigan to earn the CLG distinction.

Through this distinction, Niles may now have potential access to financial and technical assistance for means of historical preservation.

“States receive money from the Federal Historic Preservation Fund, and are required to give away at least 10 percent of their funding as CLG subgrants,” said Lisa Croteau, director of marketing and administration for Niles Main Street.

According to Croteau, that amount is around $100,000 per year.

The grants may go towards a variety of projects within a community including surveys, rehabilitation work, design guidelines, educational programs, structural assessments, feasibility studies and National Register nominations.

“We are really excited to have achieved this designation,” said Wendy Halder, chair of the Niles Historic District Commission. “We are optimistic that it will provide new opportunities for improving our historic districts so that we can honor our past as our community moves ever forward.”

According to Croteau, there are goals set with the Local Historic District Commission for the next few years.

Those plans include resurveying the Historic Fourth Street and Downtown historic districts of Niles and investigate feasibility of a new Historic District on St. Joseph Street.

The Historic Fourth Street district runs along North Fourth Street, between Main and Wayne Streets. The Niles Downtown Historic District is a commercial district, along Sycamore, Main and Cedar Streets, between Front and Fifth Streets.

Also in the plans, according to Croteau, will be to organize one public historic building workshop to happen in each in the next four years. Another is to conceptualize a plan to connect all owners of property to the Niles Historic District Commission each year. These plans are all eligible for application to access the CLG funding.

Currently, seven Niles city residents serve on the Niles Historic District Commission and approve the work plans for Niles’s two designated historic districts.

According to the MiPlace website, any municipality is eligible to become a CLG.

“By meeting a few simple, but important standards, a community may receive financial aid and technical assistance that will enhance and promote historic neighborhoods and commercial districts,” the website said.

“An active CLG program can become an important planning vehicle for community development by identifying specific preservation projects and applying for grants to carry out the projects.”

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