Planning for our community takes time and energy. Not just from our staff, but from our residents, businesses, land owners, and stakeholders who together make up our community to ensure the standards we want and desire are set for our future. Back in 2006 the City set out to plan for Meridian south of the interstate. While those who participated in the process were able to agree on what part of the community should look like, there was a section that didn t have consensus so no decisions were made about the future of this property.
Last week, more than five years since this project originally began, we once again started the process of setting the vision for south Meridian located south of the interstate and west of Linder Road. These nine square miles - in city s area of impact - were the focus of a planning session held at Mary McPherson Elementary last Wednesday night. I d like to thank those who came out and participated in this exercise which is the first step in the long-range planning for the area. Sitting side-by-side, the participants worked together to develop their plan for south Meridian, setting aside their needs or desires and putting Meridian first. The next step now will be a joint meeting between the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council. This meeting will take place on April 3 at 5:30 pm at City Hall, during which common themes of the citizen designed maps will be presented and a summary of the first meeting shared. If you have an interest in the area and the process, please visit www.meridianctiy.org/youarethemap.
While long-range visioning is being done for south Meridian, we continue to work other areas as well, such as our downtown. We received our quarterly update from Ashley Ford, the Administrator for the Meridian Development Corporation (MDC) last week at City Council. She shared information about the projects and activities in downtown such as parking to accommodate businesses for their employees and customers, and signage to have a cohesive look and feel to our downtown.
In case you didn t know, MDC has relocated the Groundfloor from its location on Idaho Street to the SW corner of Main and Broadway in the old Farmers and Merchants bank building. This new location provides more opportunities for startup companies who need work space. It will also provide a home location for the MDC administrator with office hours and an easy point of contact. So, if you want to know more about MDC and what is planned for our downtown, stop in and sit down with Ashley.
As I mentioned in my State of the City speech, having places to go with family and friends is a priority. Nowhere is this truer than in our downtown. As I have said in the past, it must be a place to go to, not drive through. The City is working with the MDC and downtown businesses to foster an environment that encourages investment; we have seen advancements over the last few years in spite of the economy with new businesses opening up such as Flatbread Community Oven, Preece Chocolates, The Grotto, and many more.
We have also seen the construction of the new building for COMPASS and Valley Regional Transit keeping both of these organizations in Meridian and adding 20 jobs into our downtown. We are currently working with developers and potential investors on two different opportunities that, if successful, will be catalyst projects for downtown and meet the Destination Downtown vision that has been established by the community.
As we continue to work on our future, both immediate and long-term, there will be plenty of opportunities. I ask you to join us; stay informed, visit our website frequently, and get involved. Working together, we are building a premiere community.
Last week at City Council we welcomed Bruce Chatterton as our City's
first ever Director in our newly formed Community Development Department. Bruce comes to us from the City of Boise where
he has been the Director of Planning and Development Services since 2004, and
was chosen after an exhaustive nationwide search that lasted more than 6
months. We would not settle and wanted
to find someone we knew would put Meridian first. With more than 25 years of experience in the
field in both Idaho and Florida, Bruce is well respected both locally and
nationally and will be a great asset for our newly formed department. Bruce will begin work on March 12th;
we are glad he is joining our team and we are excited for the new perspective
and experience he will bring to our City.
The Community Development Department is a combination of our Planning
Department and our Building and Development Services Division, and can now be
found on the first floor of City Hall in the space that our Development
Services has occupied since 2008. By
combining these two workgroups we are creating a one stop shop and enhancing
our business friendly climate.
We are committed to our business community, as they provide jobs and
economical stability in our community. A 2010 Boise Valley Economic Partnership
survey showed Meridian City’s development processes ranked an 8.5 out of 10 -
10 being the best. Now that is good, but
we should always be our own toughest critic.
Ramping up our efforts in the Community Development Department is a
major component to cultivating exceptional customer service. Additionally, we have convened a work group,
led by small business owner Jason Monks and a local developer Ron Van Auker Jr.,
to help us identify what we can do to move the needle towards the 'ten'. They are focusing in two specific areas;
business processes for commercial development and strategies and tools to boost
our entrepreneurial climate. This will
ultimately feed into one of my five priorities over the next four years which
is to attract and grow family wage jobs.
We have seen business growth and job creation in Meridian with 12,500
new jobs and over 1,000 businesses in my first two terms. Our community gained 500 jobs just last year,
even during the downturn. It is
important that the jobs created are 'family-wage' jobs which is the focus of
another work group, led by Rick Ritter, who not only look at job creation, but
also our role in the Governor's Project 60.
They are focusing on attracting suppliers for current manufacturers and
employers, helping business’s bottom-line by having their suppliers close, and,
at the same time, attracting new businesses and jobs.
This group will also look at our industry clusters known as our Business
Enterprise Corridors in an effort to replicate the success seen in The CORE,
our health sciences and technology district along Eagle Road. By bringing
together complimentary type businesses in other areas of our city we look forward
to rolling out plans for The Fields District and our Public Safety District.
As you can see we have a lot going on in Meridian. With Bruce joining our team in our Community
Development Department, citizen focus groups lending their expertise, and the
many opportunities in our community for job creation in areas I have noted as
well as the Ten Mile region and Downtown, we have exciting times on the
horizon. I look forward to sharing
future successes with you soon.
By Caleb Hood
Do you want to be involved in planning for the future of South Meridian? Do you have a vision of where subdivisions, parks, schools and other land uses should be located? If so, I’d like to invite you to a February 22nd community workshop at Mary McPherson Elementary School, 1050 E. Amity Road. During this workshop, participants will be asked to designate future land uses for property south of I-84, west of Linder, and north of Lake Hazel—about 9 square miles! Land use scenarios that are composed during the workshop will then be analyzed and reported back at a second workshop on April 3rd at City Hall.
During the February workshop, participants will be asked to plan for the long-range future of the area, not just a few years out, by playing a land use board game called “You are the Map!” Participants will arrange square game pieces (representing 40-acre land uses) on a gridded map to help determine future land uses, development patterns and densities. Working in small groups and with the support of staff, participants will have the opportunity to put ideas to paper and tell the City what they’d like to see for South Meridian into the future. This planning and outreach process is designed for residents, property owners, businesses, developers, and other stakeholders to have a say in what the future for South Meridian entails.
The goal of this process is to create a map of future land uses for inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan – the City’s “guide” for promoting and evaluating new development proposals. To ensure that in 50 years great spaces exist, that people have a variety of nice places to live and work, appropriate services are provided, and that South Meridian is an enviable and attractive destination to live, work and play we need your help. Please consider joining your neighbors on Wednesday, February 22nd, 6:30 p.m. at Mary McPherson Elementary.
For additional information on this project, please contact Caleb Hood, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the project website: www.meridiancity.org/youarethemap
The Treasure Valley is still reeling from the tragic loss of one of its most prominent business leaders just over a week ago. Despite his relatively young age, Steve Appleton made a lasting impression on nearly everyone he met and left behind a legacy of leadership, character, integrity, and generosity.
These traits were especially evident during an interaction I had with him back in March of 2007. It was during that year that the Meridian Mayor s & CEO s Kids Book Club was in its inaugural season. To put this story in context, let me first tell you about the book club and its purpose.
The Mayor & CEO s Kids Book Club, now in its 6th season, is a City program for kids in grades 3rd through 5th. This program provides the opportunity to spend quality time each month discussing a book with the sponsoring company's president or CEO and I. The purpose is to reinforce the importance and joy of reading and show them that it s true that readers are leaders and "leaders are readers.".
I had seen a similar program offered elsewhere and modified it to reflect our community. The business sponsorship had to be more than writing a check, I felt it should include the investment of the 'leaders' time. I hoped to instill the love of reading and opening my readers minds and hearts to books of all types. We also wanted to help kids to create their own library - I still have several of my childhood favorite books that hold a special place in my heart.
My staff and I hoped kids would learn to revel in the idea of a good story, and appreciate the informational and entertainment value of books. By creating the Mayor & CEO s Kids Book Club, we felt we could offer valuable mentoring to local youth in the area of literacy.
Steve Appleton obviously shared our sentiments and agreed to sponsor and serve as the leader-reader for one of our monthly book club sessions. Arrangements had been made well in advance for Steve to serve as a guest leader-reader. He selected the book -- and greatly looked forward to his evening with the book club children when duty unexpectedly called& . and in a big way.
Steve Appleton was suddenly summoned to lead President Bush on a tour of a Micron plant in West Virginia, and the tour was to take place the Friday morning after he was scheduled to lead the Thursday evening book club. Understandably, his staff immediately recommended that he cancel his engagement with the children s book club. But Steve Appleton insisted on honoring his commitment to Meridian s youth and showed up, fully focused and engaged on the book club activities.
After guiding the kids through a spirited hour-long discussion about the book with me, Steve stayed on and regaled the kids with stories of exotic foods and 'critters' he had eaten during his many travels. He also shared with them his love of flight and aviation and listened as they told him of their hobbies and aspirations.
I don t know if the children present that evening fully comprehended that Steve Appleton was the President and CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or that he was willing to take a red eye flight overnight just so that he could be present at their book club meeting, but they were certainly charmed by his boyish enthusiasm, enthralled by his tales of high adventure, and impressed that the following day he would be hanging out with the President of the United States.
I ll never forget that evening, and Steve s easy way with the kids. His actions truly showed him as a person who walks the talk of his convictions and demonstrated his heart for youth traits any person should be proud to practice and perfect during their lifetime, regardless of its length. He showed 45 kids that night that they were as important as the President of the United States -- A priceless experience with a rare and unique man. The void he leaves in this valley, state, and well beyond will not easily be filled.
Each spring, the City of Meridian Water Division conducts routine flushing of its 400 miles of water mains to clear out any naturally occurring sediment that may have accumulated over the winter months. Without irrigation needs, water consumption during these colder months drops dramatically and slows the flow of water through our City s underground piping system. This decrease in flow allows mineral deposits to accumulate in pipes and contribute to water color problems.
Flushing is required to remove this harmless sediment, which works by moving water through the pipes at a high velocity creating a scouring action. That water and sediment is then discharged through a nearby outlet such as a fire hydrant. Use of this flushing technique is a necessary practice vital to the health of our City s water system.
This year s flushing activities will take place between March 12th and April 13th.
During this flushing period, your tap water may temporarily appear a light red, brown, or blackish color and could clog small household water lines and filters. The water pressure inside your home may also fluctuate at times. This is only temporary and regular water pressure will resume once the flushing period is complete.
Here are a few tips to help clear your water lines:
- Simply run cold-water faucets in your bathtubs at full stream for a few minutes until the water runs clear again.
- To avoid any unwanted sediment build-up in your hot water heater, always clear your lines using cold-water taps.
- During this flushing time, check your clothes washers and icemakers for any sediment before using. When laundering clothes, wait until the water runs clear at the tap, then wash a load of dark clothes first.
- If your faucets seem to be clogged or running slowly, simply remove the screens and rinse out.
Did You Know?
It is recommended that you drain your hot water tank annually to help clear sediment.
*Remember to turn off power to your water heater to prevent damage to it; please check manufacturer instructions on how to do this properly.
An estimated flushing schedule, along with helpful tips for minimizing the potential impacts of discolored water, can be found online at: www.meridiancity.org/springflush/.
Questions / Comments? Please contact the Meridian Water Division at 888-5242.
On February 1st I had the pleasure of delivering the 2012 State of the City address. This was a great opportunity to share how the City is doing and the direction we are headed over the next four years. I am proud to say that we have accomplished much and the state of our city is strong, but there is more to do.
I will write about various elements in my presentation in the weeks and months to come. I felt it was important, however, to focus first on -- the rebuilding of the Meridian Road Interchange. This is a priority that we, as a community, need to focus on today. The benefits of an improved interchange would bring structural, as well as, bicyclist and pedestrian safety; congestion relief on the bridge/overpass and on and off-ramps, in addition to opening the fourth lane to traffic on I-84 for east/west traffic; and immediate and long-term job creation in the area.
This is a priority to our City and to the region as a whole. We need to make our voices and concerns heard at all levels of government. That is our responsibility as a city – to put Meridian first – and help met this community need. We have learned from the past that if we come together as a community we can succeed. If you don’t believe me, just go take a look at the new Ten Mile Interchange.
Most of us drive over the Meridian Road Interchange on a regular basis and we all know that the condition gets worst every year. We can see there are no sidewalks, bike lanes, or an adequate safety rail which means every day we risk losing a pedestrian, child, or bicyclist's life. In a survey conducted by Roaring Springs Water Park at the end of last season, 97% of parents said they would not allow their child to walk or ride across the Meridian Road overpass due to the lack of these safety features alone. This is not acceptable, not in our community.
Let us be clear, the rebuilding of the Meridian Road Interchange is not just a Meridian issue, it is a regional problem. The rebuilding effort is supported regionally by the COMPASS Board and multiple cities and Chambers of Commerce in Ada and Canyon counties. These entities recognize that we are not realizing the full benefit of the I-84 improvements and investment made by the state through the widening of the interstate – I-84.
Due to its outdated design, the Meridian Road Interchange prohibits the efficient movement of commuters, goods, and services into and through the area due to the choke point at Meridian Road both on the overpass and under it as well. The investment in the I-84 corridor has been huge and needed; but that they would exclude the middle portion defies all reason! By rebuilding the Meridian Road Interchange we can finish the last puzzle piece, eliminating this bottleneck which is stymieing economic growth due to the inability to accommodate existing and future traffic. Locally we have done our part as the Ada County Highway District has made improvements to Meridian Road on the north and south side of the interstate; now the State needs to do theirs.
In order for this to happen, we need you – the community – to be a supportive voice and help legislators like Senator Chuck Winder and Representative Marv Hagedorn advocate for getting the Meridian Interchange rebuilt. We need you to call Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and their newly appointed Chairman Jerry Whitehead, to call the Governor’s Office. This needs to be a priority. We can't afford it not to be!
Earlier this year I established the Meridian Interchange Task Force to begin working on this problem. With their leadership and involvement, we are dedicated to work with ITD to ensure the Meridian Road Interchange is programmed for design and construction. I encourage you to support their efforts, ‘like’ our Facebook page supporting the rebuild efforts, and make your voice heard to get this needed improvement for our community.