By Allison Kaptein, Recreation Coordinator
Ignite: verb. To heat up: excite. To set in motion: spark.
On February 4th, the Teen Activities Council, a sub-committee of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, will be hosting Ignite Youth at Rocky Mountain High School. Ignite Youth is an event where high school aged students get the opportunity to share their passions, concerns, and ideas with an audience of their peers, as well as other community members of all ages. Ignite is an event that was started by a Seattle-based marketing company as a venue for people to share their ideas with others. Each speaker spoke for five minutes and used exactly twenty PowerPoint slides to convey their message. The event was a huge success, and now Ignite events are held all over the world, including a recurring event in Boise. While youth have participated in various Ignite events worldwide, Ignite Youth in Meridian will be the first ever youth-only event.
Youth interested in giving a “talk” at the event were required to submit their ideas online, and we have received submissions from students at schools around the Meridian area, including submissions from students who attend Meridian, Rocky Mountain, Mountain View, and Renaissance High Schools.
Ignite Youth is also a competition, not only among the individuals giving a talk, but also between the local high schools. The winner will receive a prize, and the school they attend will receive a trophy for their school’s trophy case. The competition will be judged by local celebrity and dignitary judges, including Mayor Tammy de Weerd and Kyle Gravlin of Today’s Channel 6.
The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council is exited to bring this seminal event to our community and to continue it annually.
Five minutes. Twenty slides. Come to Ignite Youth on February 4th to participate in this landmark event and to find out about the passions and ideas of our youth.
For more information, contact Allison Kaptein at 489-0550 or Luke Cavener at 489-0535.
By: Mayor Tammy
The current interchange is in desperate need of replacement. We came together as a community and made 10 Mile Interchange happen. Once again we need to come together and get this project funded and built as well.
Originally designed in the 1960’s to serve a rural community, the Meridian Road Interchange was built with 50-foot spans across Interstate 84 and no pedestrian or bicycle facilities, such as bike lanes, sidewalks, or security railings. While acceptable for the time when Meridian’s population was approximately 2,000 people, today’s current population (approximately 75,000) grossly exceeds what this facility was designed to handle. The increased traffic and mobility demands combined with the inadequacies of the current Meridian Road Interchange are creating a safety and mobility problem that affects not only Meridian but the entire region.
Today the Meridian Road Interchange is the second busiest intersection in the state with roughly 40,000 vehicles accessing it daily. In addition, pedestrians and bicyclists run the risk of being injured when they traverse the interchange as there are no current sidewalks or pathways. With the close proximity to Wahooz and Roaring Springs, providing safe access for the public should be a priority.
As well, ask any daily commuter that travels under Meridian overpass on I-84 and they will tell you that the Meridian Road Interchange is a choke point or bottle neck for many commuters. The current design of the overpass doesn’t allow for more than three lanes to travel under Meridian Road, despite the fact that completed GARVEE projects have widened lanes on both sides of the Meridian Road Interchange to four lanes in each direction.
Many of you have already chosen to be a “fan” of the City on Facebook. If you haven’t you can click here to be taken to our page. Facebook, as well as Twitter, has been a great tool to communicate with our community on a number of different subjects. Continuing our effort to inform and engage the public, we have recently launched a new Facebook page to “Rebuild the Meridian Road Interchange.” This page is a community driven project designed to bring attention to this vital project for our community page and we need your help to spread the word. You can click here to become a fan of this page.
As the legislative session moves forward, as a community we need to utilize any opportunity to get this project back in the Garvee program. Please visit our page to find information on how to contact your representative. Let them know how important this project is, to not just Meridian, but to the entire Treasure Valley.
Have a unique way for the City to share information? I want to hear about it, email me at MayorTammy@meridiacity.org. We want to Celebrate Meridian with examples of the many people and events that make our community the premier city to live, work, and raise a family.
By Shelly Houston, Mayor’s Office
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
Dr. King, a tireless supporter of human rights, believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make our country a better place to live.
Many people are not aware that to honor that legacy, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act in 1994 in hopes that others would honor that legacy by annually taking the day off from work or school to spend it in service to their communities.
Each year, in that spirit, Americans across the country answer Dr. King’s question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities. In fact, the MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President's national call-to-service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.
For those who volunteer on a regular basis, as many Meridian residents do, a MLK Day service project could be a great way to show friends and family the importance of volunteering and encourage them to get involved.
For those who have never volunteered before but have the desire to do so, this could be the perfect time to find the right opportunity to give volunteerism a try or perhaps begin volunteering on a regular basis.
If you need ideas on possible service projects, the Internet is a great resource. Websites like serveidaho.com and dosomething.org have some great ideas to get you started, or you can simply type “service project ideas” into your favorite Internet search engine and begin exploring the possibilities.
As you’ll see, people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can get involved by finding creative ways in their community to empower individuals, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.
By Anna Canning, City of Meridian Planning Director
In 1975, State Legislators enacted a law that required all Idaho cities and counties to adopt a comprehensive plan. The statutes gave guidance on what the plan should consider and the function the plan needed to serve for the community. The Land Use Planning Act (LUPA), as it is known, remains largely unchanged to this date.
In response to that requirement, the City of Meridian adopted their first comprehensive plan in 1978. At the time, the City also had a subdivision ordinance and a zoning ordinance in place.
By 1983, the City had started to feel pressure from development; the Idaho Transportation Department had recently decided to build an interchange at Eagle Road, and developers were requesting permission to annex to the City and build a regional shopping center. The City knew that the 1978 plan was not providing the guidance and support needed to advance the goals of the City. From May 1983 to March 1984, the City Council conducted several hearings and workshops on a new comprehensive plan and a new zoning ordinance to implement that plan.
Fast forward now to the summer of 1993. Again the City is looking to update and modernize its comprehensive plan. Citizens representing neighborhood groups, developers, real estate professionals, and public agencies participated in the update process, and a modernized City of Meridian Comprehensive Plan was adopted on December 21, 1993. This time the zoning ordinance was left largely the same.
By the late 1990s, the Eagle Road interchange opened and residential development in North Meridian was booming; the pressure for the City to develop and grow quickly was unprecedented. In response, the City of Meridian issued a request for qualifications on November 3, 1998, to prepare an updated comprehensive plan. By June 1999, the process of developing Meridian’s 2002 Comprehensive Plan had begun. After many public hearings, the plan was adopted by the City Council on August 6, 2002.
This 2002 Comprehensive Plan called for new ways of thinking about land uses and how they should be integrated and mixed. The City quickly found that the existing zoning ordinance was ill equipped at carrying out the vision of the 2002 plan. In 2004, the City initiated an effort to re-do the entire zoning ordinance and to combine it with our subdivision ordinance thus creating a Unified Development Code. The Unified Development Code was a collaborative project of City staff, business owners, technical staff, elected and appointed officials, and the development community. By 2005, the City had adopted a new code that ensured that development met the vision set for the City, while also addressing current development practices.
As the City has grown and successfully overcome challenge after challenge, we feel that the goals and policies in our comprehensive plan meet the City’s needs. However, we recognize that much of the background material used in the 2002 plan is now out-of-date. Additionally, we have completed many of the tasks set to us in that plan and need to add to our “to-do” list. For that reason, City staff initiated what we are calling a “re-vamp” of the comprehensive plan. Our goal was to: 1) update the demographic and technical information in the plan; 2) update our analysis of such information; and 3) include a few key topics that were not discussed in the 2002 plan—specifically, economic development, sustainability, and art. Last Fall we presented the updated technical information to the Council. We then concluded our work with our topic subgroups and folded their recommended goals, objectives, and actions into the lists for the overall plan.
Hopefully you heard about and attended our town hall meeting to discuss all the goals and objectives. We received great ideas from the public that attended and we were certainly able to add to our “to-do” list based on those comments.
Now we (City Staff) are ready to take it public once again. We will formally submit the “re-vamped” comprehensive plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission later this month. We will post the draft copy on-line, and we hope you have the time to review and make comments.
As staff, we are excited about this new plan and new format. We believe it will be more useful to the public and our applicants. We want a great plan, but we need your help!
WHAT really makes a plan great is the ideas and comments that the public adds in the process.
We cannot do this on our own. Please look for upcoming notices on the City’s website and other social media about the plan. Please comment. Give us ideas. Make this a great plan for a great City.
By Rob Sosnowski
Throughout history communication has provided people and organizations a means to integrate, organize, and promote information and thoughts. Within organizations effective communication increases the chances for success, improves morale and motivates people, promotes shared responsibilities, integrates business units, and is a foundational component for efficient business practices. “Like a human being, a company has to have an internal communication mechanism, a ‘nervous system’, to coordinate its actions.” (Bill Gates). Effective communication is essential for effective government.
Effective government can also benefit from clearly defined, understood, and streamlined work processes. Well-ordered work processes can result in operational efficiencies, improved customer service, enhanced product quality, flexibility within changing environments, and in general can ensure that business needs of an organization are successfully achieved.
The City of Meridian has to succeed at many different business needs; some of those needs include permitting and licensing land use and community activities. Can the City improve its communication procedures and work processes to better meet its permitting and licensing business needs? The short answer is yes.
In September 2010, the City of Meridian recently signed a contract with Accela to bring Accela software on site to address these needs. Accela provides a means to automate workflows, track activities, manage data input and review, share information, and generate reports. Using Accela, the City employees will easily integrate department information into a centralized location thus allowing for cross-departmental information sharing, improved responsiveness, and decision making support. No longer will employees have to call others to find a permit status or specific information, using Accela they will simply look up the information.
Accela also provides other capabilities, such as integrating with Meridian’s GIS system, extending capabilities into the field, and providing the public with a means through which to conduct over-the-counter services across the Web. These additional capabilities will improve an understanding of and the relationships between information, allow field staff to directly view, manage, and update Accela information, and improve public customer service. The public and contractors will have the option of applying for permits on-line, providing a faster process and removing the need for a sometimes inconvenient site visit to City Hall.
Since September, the Clerk’s Office, Code Enforcement (Police), Development Services, Fire, Information Technology, Parks, and Planning have been working hard to implement Accela. A kick-off meeting was held in October which was the first time many people saw the product being demonstrated; they were impressed with its capabilities. The basic Accela software and several modules were installed on City infrastructure. Department subject matter experts were identified. Datasets, forms, documents, and other resources have been identified and organized. There have also been many meetings.
Several weeks of business requirements meetings were conducted to capture Meridian work processes. During these meetings, department staff focused on further defining and streamlining work flows thus providing for more efficiency. The business requirements are now being converted into software configuration; the software is now taking on the identity of the work flows. An initial set of configuration meetings were held to show Meridian employees the first glimpse of the software as it will be used to meet Meridian business needs.
As they say patience is a virtue; in the case of Meridian there has been plenty of patience. About five years ago, the need for such an approach was first discussed by Meridian employees. Now, five years later we are close, oh so close. Although we have a lot of work to complete on this project we are targeting a go-live date of April or May, 2011; that is just a few months away. These are exciting times for the City of Meridian, as they say, “Good things are worth the wait”.
By: Mark Niemeyer, Fire Chief City of Meridian.
During the holiday season citizens across our nation, across our great State, and throughout our community in Meridian take the time to perform a kind act for someone they may or may not know. I have often wondered “what if the holiday acts of kindness happened year round? What would our world look like?” If you have ever wondered the same thing, I would encourage you to get to know your Meridian Firefighters.
Every day, men and women within the department are creating that holiday spirit year round. These actions are not just performed on calls they are dispatched to, but throughout the day as they interact with the public. Some skeptics may say they’re doing what they’re paid to do; I would respectfully disagree. At the heart of every firefighter is a desire to help, a desire to help make the lives of others better, and a desire to better the world in which we all work, live, and play. What many people may not understand is the toll that can sometimes take. There are times when our firefighters get to interact with the best our world has to offer- the birth of a baby, the smile of a child during a tour of the fire truck, or the gentle yet firm handshake of a veteran. These are the good times, and are ones that every firefighter tucks into his or her memory bank to share later as a career highlight. But there are also the bad times- our firefighters also deal with death, destruction, sorrow, and pain. These incidents, and the emotions they can evoke, can be serious enough to cripple someone’s drive to help others. And yet, your firefighters continually pull themselves up and prepare for the next opportunity to help someone in need. You might think it’s a mindset, a sort of mental toughness that heroes throughout our community are thought to have. To a certain extent, yes. But even more so, it’s the Heart of a Firefighter. The drive and desire to help others 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without complaint but with much sacrifice. As you and your family enjoy and celebrate the holiday season, I challenge anyone reading this article to emulate our firefighters. Long after the presents, long after the holiday cheer, take the time to perform a random act of kindness. Build up your “positive” memory bank and you’ll be amazed at how those experiences will drive you to do even more.
On behalf of the Meridian Fire Department I hope your 2011 is filled with joy and hope, and most importantly that you and your loved ones stay safe.