Infante gives assuring State of City address
By Shelby Schroeder
Niles’ mayor said the city’s future is bright.
NILES — Mayor Ralph Infante boasted business expansions and government projects as the backbone of what sets this city apart from others in the Mahoning Valley.
Infante spoke to a group of more than 75 at the Hometown Buffet in Niles on Friday for the annual State of the City address. Residents and business owners were presented a map of where the city has come and where it’s heading in the coming years.
“Even in the economic times we’re having,” Infante said, “the city of Niles is doing pretty well.”
Running on a budget of about $73 million, he said the city operates on advanced technologies known only by bigger cities. For instance, the gauges that allow for quick and easy meter reading of natural gas use will soon be used for other home utilities.
Infante also cited plans by local businesses to expand within the city as indication of a growing economy. He credited a nurturing environment for proposed expansions at three companies: BRT Extrusions, McMahon Steel and Dynasol Plastics.
“We’re really working to keep businesses here,” he said.
Infante said his excitement for the future of Niles piqued following Tuesday’s election and the passage of the levy that will afford residents three new schools within the district.
Other proud city achievements he pointed to include the future downtown Edison Place for senior housing, eight repaved streets and the cumulative demolition of 93 nuisance homes since 1998.
But two projects earned separate recognition by the mayor.
First is a 4.5-mile bike path that has been in the works for nearly five years. Infante said the path, which will run from the Mahoning-Trumbull County line into Niles, will be bid out next year at an estimated cost of $3.4 million.
More impressive, Infante noted, is the city’s nearly complete Wellness Center, which he marveled at, calling it “so complicated of a project, it’s fascinating to me.”
The fitness facility has been named the Mayor Ralph Infante Wellness Center, and Scott MacMillan, the center’s director, shared with guests his excitement for its completion.
“Believe me, this is something that’s going to go a long way with our youth and residents,” MacMillan began.
The 80,000-square-foot facility will feature everything from a four-lane track and indoor sporting fields to a workout room and Wi-Fi cafe.
When it opens in around six weeks, residents both in and out of the city can enjoy the Wellness Center at an inexpensive membership rate, he said.
The address was organized by the Regional Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Home Savings and Loan.