By Mayor Tammy
For many of us, last week marked the start of a new
school year, heralded with the familiar sights of yellow school buses, flashing
crosswalk signals and kids toting backpacks - my granddaughter sported her
beloved 'Frozen' backpack as she entered first grade. This also marks the time
when I meet with Meridian high school principals to take a pulse on the
trends that students in our community are facing. It’s important for all of us
to be aware of the pressures our teens face as a caring community and to ensure
a healthy Meridian.
Common topics in these meetings cover the dangers and
abuse of prescription drugs, personal safety, distracted driving and
relationship violence. One item of particular concern is the growing trend of
bullying and cyber-bullying. This issue is increasingly alarming considering
the sheer volume of kids turning to the internet and social media. It is
important that we stand together to do whatever needed to stop all forms of
The media has covered stories showcasing the
catastrophic results of bullying. Social networks like Facebook and Instagram
were never intended for this use; however, easy access facilitates bullying
behavior as participants hide behind the mask of a computer or mobile
device. It’s incumbent upon us to teach children that any type of bullying will
not be tolerated.
Most consider the worst byproduct of bullying as
suicide. It happens too often - one is too many; our children must learn proper
coping mechanisms to handle everyday stresses. For anyone who has experienced
the heartbreak of losing a friend or loved one to suicide, it’s critical to be
aware of available resources to help during this time of crisis. Next week is
Suicide Prevention Week, an awareness campaign highlighted by World Suicide
Prevention Day on September 10th. I urge you to be educated and know
the warning signs when you see them. In doing so, and knowing what to do, you
just may save a life.
Though I often extoll the many wonderful things about
the quality of life in Meridian (and Idaho), we are not immune to the tragedy
of suicide. Our state experienced a higher than normal rate of suicide -- 39%
higher than the national average in 2011. It is the second leading cause of
death for Idahoans age 15-34, and for males age 10-14. Between 2009 and 2013,
85 Idaho children (age 18 and under) committed suicide; 15 of them were under
14 years of age.
The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) has been a
leading voice on this topic. Recently, MYAC members asked our state legislators
to provide continued funding to the Idaho suicide prevention hotline.
Additionally, they created a public service announcement that was shared with
police departments and schools across the state. You can view the video by clicking
this link MYAC
Suicide Prevention Hotline PSA. I applaud them for their efforts on this
Bullying and suicide are very real and ugly issues
that nobody – especially our youth – should ever have to endure. By working
together, we can make a difference to stop this alarming trend. These are our
future leaders and our legacy, and we owe it to them to feel valued, safe and
The City of Meridian has worked hard to win its recognition
as one of Idaho’s most desirable places in which to live and the park system
has been heralded among the best in the state. With approximately 20 community parks
located throughout Meridian boundaries, there are a number of amenities,
activities, sporting events and unique environments that are bound to appease
most every lifestyle choice.
We just wrapped up another successful summer of our very
popular CableOne Movie Night. As the season and weather changes, the new City
of Meridian’s Parks and
Recreation Guide is now available outlining the multitude of offerings for
participants of all ages. Whether you’re looking for preschool activities or
classes in dance, art, cheerleading, martial arts, yoga or Zumba, there’s
always something going on in our fine city. All this information - and much,
much more – is available at our City website at www.meridiancity.org.
And next on the horizon, on September 6th, our
fifth annual Community Block Party will be hosted again at Settler’s Park from
10 am to 4 pm. You’ll see lots of food, fun and activities for kids of all
ages. We’ll have demonstrations
and a sneak peak at some of our upcoming programs offered by our Parks and
Recreation team. We’ll even throw in some inflatables to ensure you have
a blast at this year’s Community Block Party.
One of the popular attractions at both Settlers and Kleiner
parks are our splash pads. Those will remain open for the enjoyment of all park
visitors until September 21st. And for all disc golf
enthusiasts, the courses are due to go up in Bear Creek Park in the mid-September
timeframe, once our fall softball season concludes. And we anticipate our disc
golf course at Settlers Park course will go up in early November. Be sure to
watch the City of Meridian website for updates to these, and many of our other
attractions, so that you’re in-the-know and don’t miss out!
These are just a small sampling of the multitude of things
to see and do in Meridian. To learn more, check out the community calendar on our city website at www.meridiancity.org.
column from the Idaho Transportation Department
Great progress is being made on I-84 and the
Meridian Interchange! The west half of the interchange bridge is beginning to
take shape. Construction crews are tying rebar and forming the deck for the
The work zone will be different each night for the
next month, so please slow down and pay attention. In general:
- Eastbound I-84 will be reduced to two
lanes under the interchange from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and until 7 a.m. on
- The eastbound “loop” on-ramp from
southbound Meridian road will be closed intermittently. Drivers will still be
able to access the other eastbound on-ramp from northbound Meridian Road.
- Westbound I-84 will be reduced to one
lane under the interchange in mid-August.
Meanwhile, ITD is replacing the outside lanes of
I-84, improving drainage and resurfacing the inside lanes between Meridian and
Five Mile roads. I-84 has been reduced to three lanes in both directions in
this area. That gives crews enough room to haul materials, lay pavement and get
equipment in and out of the work zone.
Construction is expected to be completed by late
If you have questions, visit the project website (www.itd.idaho.gov/MeridianInterchange)
or contact ITD at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (208) 334-8005.
most of you know, I haven’t been shy about my personal commitment to the
education of Meridian’s future leaders – our children. One of our the biggest
jobs – as parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents – is to ensure that our youth
are equipped to face the many new and difficult challenges that will meet them
in the future. I write this column wearing my ‘citizen’ hat, while knowing that
if I were wearing my ‘mayor’ hat my support wouldn’t change. Businesses and employers
who are bringing jobs here cite the importance of having an educated workforce,
and that this is their top concern in wanting to locate here, and in some
cases, stay here.
much of our country is successfully fighting its way out of what has been
dubbed The Great Recession, the after-effects are still being felt. Budgets
across the board have been affected and priorities have been re-aligned to meet
fiscal realities. One could easily argue that our schools have been hardest hit
and most affected by these changes.
a consequence, our schools have felt the sting of some pretty stiff belt
tightening. That has had a direct impact on our schools – our kids and faculty
– by reducing school days, hiring fewer teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and
eliminating or changing busing, to name a few. However, despite the reductions
in funding and changing practices, our school district has continued to grow in
the numbers of students they serve, and several of our schools are way beyond
capacity in Meridian and elsewhere in the district. That’s why the
upcoming vote for the building bond issue is so very important; not just to me,
but to all of us.
West Ada School District (formerly Joint School District No. 2) voters now face
a very important question: will you support improving our schools for the
benefit of our children? On August 26th, we all have an opportunity
to weigh in on this very important matter.
passed, the $104 million bond issue will support:
new middle schools, costing $60 million. One of the middle schools will be
built in south Meridian to relieve the severe overcrowding at Lake Hazel Middle
School in Boise.
new elementary school, costing $12 million, is also being proposed for south
Meridian to relieve Sienna and Mary McPherson, as well as other elementary
schools south of the freeway from being over capacity.
of the district’s oldest high school, Meridian High’s remodel and expansion,
costing $24 million.
purchases for new school sites in northwest Ada County, among others, costing
important topic has been discussed amongst school district officials for quite
some time now, but they have found ways to meet the needs of our
children. Now, they bring forward a proposal that if approved, will lower
the current levy rate from $438 per $100,000 (of your home’s value) to $399 per
$100,000. You can learn more about the bond by visiting http://www.westada.org
Meridian community has been consistent and firm in their concern that the
overcrowding of schools is an issue and the education of our youth is a
priority. I heard it last fall on my listening tour from citizens of all ages
and this year’s city survey listed education and schools as one of the most
important issues we are facing.
for one, will support this upcoming bond as I believe our future as a community
– and the entire school district, all 385 square miles of it - will certainly
benefit from the passage of this important measure on August 26th.
Regardless of whether you agree with me, it is important to educate yourself on
this upcoming bond and to exercise your right to vote. See you at the
polls on August 26th.
that time of year when we are all trying to get our family outings organized
before the start of the new school year. While we are focused on these getaways
and starting to think of school supplies, I wanted to remind you about a great
opportunity to get together with your friends and neighbors for the purpose of
building community and preventing crime.
in its 31st year, National Night Out is designed to help promote crime
prevention programs, such as neighborhood watch, in order to ensure safer
communities. This celebration brings together neighborhoods, friends, and
individuals to cultivate relationships and form strong bonds with one another,
which combine to form the fabric of who we are in Meridian.
Night Out is Tuesday, August 5th and it is one of my favorite nights of the
year. People throughout Meridian join
together on this special night for celebrations which are unique and just plain
fun! These events and activities cultivate neighborly relationships, rapport
with our police and fire personnel, and ultimately help create safe
neighborhoods by bolstering crime prevention efforts. Celebrations typically
range from backyard cookouts, to parades, to full-blown festivals with live
bands and catering.
will be 26 formal neighborhood events this year. I encourage you to take part
in your neighborhoods activities if you have one - or if you don't, consider
planning one with your neighbors! To learn if your neighborhood is hosting a
celebration (that the City knows about), please visit www.meridiancity.org or
contact Melissa Delaney with the Meridian Police Department at 888-6678. Our emergency personnel try to visit as many
of these events as possible with our K-9 units, our motorcycle officers, and
our fire trucks - are always a hit with the children. This will be an
action-packed evening and I know the City Council and I look forward to
visiting many neighborhoods to join in on the fun!
you attend an event, it is important to note that the majority of crimes in
Meridian are crimes of opportunity; such as leaving car windows rolled down,
garage doors left up and doors unlocked. We hope you do your part to reduce
these opportunities. The celebrations are a great way to expand our residents’
networks in watching out for one another. Our law enforcement agencies need
your help and simply cannot do it themselves.
The traditional National Night Out “lights on” theme encourages well-lit
neighborhoods that, when combined with awareness and watchful neighbors, helps
decrease crimes of opportunity in Meridian.
is growing and in order to maintain our culture and way of life it is important
that we come together as individuals and families in order to address the
issues we all face in our subdivisions and community. We are the safest
community in Idaho because we have partners like you! Regardless of whether
your neighborhood is hosting an event, I encourage you to take time to get to
know your neighbors, lock arms and declare we are a united community!
It’s August and we’re in the throes of the dog days
of summer. As many of us reach for the thermostat or the water hose, it’s
important to remember that the modern conveniences we all take for granted
require upkeep, maintenance and modernization – much like anything else. The
water we consume on a daily basis, for instance, requires a pretty large plant
and a vast network of people and equipment that operate behind-the-scenes.
Those conveniences, though, come with a price.
New this month, utility customers in the City of
Meridian will find an insert in their utility bills explaining proposed water
and sewer rate increases. The total of these modest increases will be minimal to
the average utility user and will equate to less than $5 for the vast majority
of our customers.
So why are we doing this now? These increases will
allow the City to fund projects required to meet new federal regulations
imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The City of Meridian is
renewing its wastewater treatment plant that operates under a special permit.
Once renewed, the plant will undergo major upgrades to comply with new EPA
requirements. The treatment plant upgrades include multiple projects, spread
over a 10-year span, with an estimated cost of $170 million.
By making these modest rate adjustments now, we avoid
future larger increases for all our utility customers, and we allow the City of
Meridian to respond to the demands imposed by the EPA. Failure on our part to
comply with these mandated improvements may have serious implications.
To learn more, visit our website at www.meridiancity.org. The public is also
invited to a public hearing on September 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm at Meridian City
Hall. This hearing will offer meeting attendees additional information, as well
as an opportunity to direct comments to the City Council regarding the proposed
utility rate increase.
By Mayor Tammy
Since the closure of the “temporary” Bark Park at the Meridian
Police Department earlier this year, our Parks Departments has been working
diligently toward a permanent solution for a facility for our community. The
Police Department shared their police dog training area as an interim location
pending the development of a long-term solution in west Meridian – and now need
the land for police operations and training demands. The park area in which the
dog park was expected to be built is still not scheduled for development
because the land remains in the county and utilities are not extended to the
While the temporary location accommodated many of our four-legged
friends and their owners – it was cramped quarters on many occasions and the
City promised to replace it. The planned completion of an unimproved parcel in
Storey Park was identified as the best location due to its central location and
had fewer conflicts than other locations considered.
Two weeks ago during our Budget workshop, our Parks and Recreation
Department presented the need to move forward with expected improvements to
Storey Park. They shared how expediting the construction by three months,
rather than waiting for the start of the FY2015 budget in October, would be the
preferred way to move forward. By starting the process now, it would add needed
infrastructure improvements of connectivity and parking issues, as well as
using a portion of the undeveloped area for a dog park. It would also allow
construction to occur this fall which would minimize the impact to neighbors
and maximize the use of the park for the 2015 summer, rather than potentially
not being able to open the park until 2016.
Our City Council approved two separate motions unanimously for the
development of Storey Park to move this forward. One motion was in the amount
of $1,344,860 for completing the undeveloped portion of the park, including the
drive aisle, parking, utilities, drainage, restroom, ditch pipe repairs,
landscaping, trash enclosure, etc. These improvements would finish this
existing park. The other motion was to fund an additional $226,408 for the cost
of the dog park improvements, including fencing, pathways, surfacing,
additional shelters and more. Once completed, the total acreage of Storey Park
will be about 19 acres, with 2.25 acres dedicated to a dog park.
Parks are enjoyed by citizens with different interests and needs -
never a “one size fits all.” Just take a look at any of our parks to see the
wide variety of activities and uses. Dog
parks are not for everyone, but there is a big demand for a dog park in
Meridian as we have more than 17,000 dogs in our community according to the
City's 2014 survey. It is important to
note that dog parks are as much about people as they are about dogs, and there
are a lot of residents asking for this amenity. Many people have a real sense
of pride and community with a dog park and they go to them to socialize with
other dog owners while their dogs play. It is true that not everyone will use a
dog park, but that is the case with most park amenities - for example, not
everyone uses the softball fields, tennis courts or horseshoe courts, yet they
are well-loved and used heavily.
The decision to move this project forward quickly will help
alleviate existing parking issues in and around the pool and ball fields, bring
in needed restroom facilities and improve the connectivity of the park. It will
also help fulfill the community promise to provide a place for dog owners to
interact with other owners and dogs at-play. I know that once completed we will
have a park we can all be proud of and enjoy regardless of the reason we visit
Storey Park or our community pool.