Niles Mayor George Alpogianis has plans for 2024 that will encourage more economic development in the village, which he said can generate revenue for the village to use funding services and police and firefighter pensions.
Golf Mill Redevelopment
In October, the Niles Village Board approved an agreement, called a term sheet, with Sterling Organization, the owner and developer of the Golf Mill Shopping Center, that sets out a broad vision of its plans for the mall. While the agreement does not set specific plans, the village agreed to pay out $96 million in tax increment financing in a “pay-as-you-go” loan for the first construction phase. Sterling estimated that redevelopment at Golf Mill would take two phases of construction and $440 million.
The next step would be for the village to approve a more detailed, legally binding redevelopment agreement, said Alpogianis.
The first proposed phase of construction at Golf Mill would bring in a 300-unit apartment building near the northeast corner of Church Street and Greenwood Avenue, according to documents obtained through the village. The second phase could bring in as many as 600 more apartments. Alpogianis said he wants to bring in more apartments, especially luxury units.
“I’ve asked moving forward that we do not approve any type of rental units, you know luxury ones, unless there is a swimming pool and a rooftop garden,” said Alpogianis.
Alpogianis said the village starts its fiscal year in May and is on track to keep up with its five-year capital improvement plan. The plan calls for budgeting funds to replace or improve crosswalks, create safer crosswalks at the intersections of Mulford Street with Milwaukee Avenue and Monroe Street with Milwaukee Avenue, replacing the Public Works salt dome, maintaining roads and tree trimming, among other projects, for the upcoming fiscal year.
One of the more expensive projects the plan calls for includes a $14 million multiphase project to replace the “aging and failing” fire station 2 building near Dempster Street and Cumberland Avenue. The village also budgeted $4 million for the replacement of lead service lines that bring water from the village’s water mains into residential homes.
Alpogianis said the village did not issue bonds to fund the projects and instead is relying on sales and property tax revenue. He said by not going into bonds, the village was able to save residents $6.75 million in fines, fees and interest.
In September, the village also introduced an app called “SeeClickFix” so that residents can make 311 requests for everything from fixing potholes to reporting rodent sightings.
“I want that stuff done in 24-48 hours,” Alpogianis said.
Police and Fire pensions
Alpogianis said the village is getting closer to closing the gap in funding its pensions for police and fire employees. State law requires that all municipalities fund at least 90% of police and fire pensions by 2040. In 2021, the village passed an 88% increase in the property tax levy to keep up with payments it needs to make toward the pensions, though it later abated a portion of those funds.
“With all due respect, and I would never knock anyone that was in there before me or past administrations, but, you know, a lot of the stuff we inherited,” said Alpogianis. “Former administrations kept everything so low. There were things that were falling apart, you know, that you know, we didn’t see,” he said.
In 2023, the tax levy for the pensions was for $13,035,401, and did not increase from the year before.
Niles-Maine District Library
Niles-Maine District Library Board President Becky Keane told Pioneer Press that 2024 will be the year the library gets its roof fixed. The roof was assessed in 2020 and repairs were recommended, but the Board of Trustees at that time did not approve funds for the repairs. The roof leaked some water in 2022, according to previous reporting.
Keane said the board will heed the advice of staff experts as to whether the library needs a partial or full roof repair. Two bids for the repair work have come in so far, and repairing the full roof could cost as much as $1 million, she said.
Former Schiller Park Public Library Executive Director Valerie Marshall was hired as the library’s new executive director and will begin the job on Monday, according to Keane. “She has lots of experience and a great outlook, and we’re lucky to have her,” said Keane.
Keane said the library will do more hiring in 2024, particularly when it comes to managerial positions and a maintenance supervisor, which Keane said the library went without for a long time.