News Release

 August 19, 2009


For Additional Information:
Robert Simison, Mayor’s Office, 208-489-0531
Susan Graham, Park Trust Representative, 208-898-0012

 


Meridian
to Receive Gift of $25 Million Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park
Park Will Serve as Tribute to Donor’s Late Father


Meridian, ID – (August 19, 2009) – On Wednesday, August 19, Eugene Kleiner formally unveiled the Master Plan for the $25 million urban park he is gifting to the City of Meridian. The park is a tribute to his father, the late Julius M. Kleiner, who owned and farmed the land on which the new park is to be built.


The Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park will be located on a 60-acre site near the northeast corner of the Fairview Avenue and Eagle Road intersection in Meridian. The park property abuts the proposed Meridian Lifestyle Center, which will include premier retail, entertainment, restaurant and office space.


Park donor Eugene Kleiner explains, “My father had a deep attachment to the Treasure Valley, and a deep personal interest in farming for food production, as the basic occupation. He was committed to charity in general, and certain charities in particular, like the Mercy Medical Center in Nampa and the Salvation Army. This is my way of giving his cherished land back to him.”


The Master Plan is a conceptual outline for the park’s design. It is intended to provide direction on the look and feel of the park design, although it will be refined as it moves through further phases of design and construction.


The park is being designed and developed by the Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park Trust, comprised of Eugene Kleiner, Elden Gray, and Mike Huter. Once constructed, the family intends to donate the park to the City of Meridian to be operated and maintained as a city park.


Elden Gray says, “I knew Julius as an astute businessman with a passion for farming and food production. I managed the farm for him for 20 years, originally turning the land into a dairy farm, and I continue to oversee farming operations to this day. I spent many years making the land flat for farming, and it's full circle for me to see the park plan so full of rolling hills and large lakes. This is a once-in-a lifetime kind of opportunity, and I am proud to help Eugene realize this dream.”


Julius M. Kleiner, a life-long businessman and philanthropist, was born in 1892, and came to America from Russia in 1916. He moved to Idaho in the 1920’s and worked hard to establish a life for his family, including operating a local creamery and poultry business.


In 1944, he purchased the property where Kleiner Park will sit from the Morrison Knudson Company, who used it to store construction equipment and horses. Although Kleiner retired from the creamery business in 1952, he worked diligently to turn the land into a dairy farm, which it operated as until the 1970’s. He continued to live and oversee farm operations from his Treasure Valley home, until his death in 1972.


“As park trustee,” Mike Huter explains, “my role has been to help coordinate the land sale of the original 260 acres, and the establishment of the 60-acre park site. I have worked with the Kleiner family for 30 years, as a business advisor and friend, and am excited to see the park move forward. The total value of this generous gift is $25 million, which includes the park site, park amenities, infrastructure improvements, and the creation of a new home for the Meridian Senior Center and a Branch Library.”


Eugene Kleiner’s vision for this park is for it to be a heavily-treed urban park with large water features, rolling terrain, bicycle and pedestrian trail systems, and lots of open space for picnics and community gatherings. A band shell with amphitheatre will provide a beautiful setting for music and festivals. A formal Grand Plaza and Promenade will feature a memorial to his father.


“The Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park will be a great addition to our park system.  This turn-key project, where both the land and the improvements are being donated by the property owner, is a generous gift to the citizens of Meridian and the Treasure Valley.  It is also a great example of the giving spirit of our community,” says Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd.


She adds, “The caliber of generosity represented by this gift to our community, and the tribute it will pay to the Kleiner family patriarch, calls to mind the lasting legacies created by the families of Julia Davis, Ann Morrison, and Kathryn Albertson through the beautiful parks created and gifted to the public in their honor. Generations from now, the name Julius M. Kleiner will still be known, spoken, and appreciated in Meridian and beyond.”


Additional elements of the Master Plan include a grand entrance and parkway boulevard, a seven-acre arboretum and rose garden, a recreation complex, two large ponds, a boathouse, multiple picnic areas, a playground, a variety of public art, and two large parking areas.


“Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park will be a unique park in our park system. Other parks around the City focus on sports uses such as softball or soccer. The vision for this park is a heavily-treed urban park with large water features, rolling terrain, bicycle and pedestrian pathways, playgrounds, and lots of open space for picnics and community gatherings,” says Meridian Parks Director Steve Siddoway.  “From the amphitheater to the arboretum, it will be a place for families to come and spend the day relaxing, picnicking, playing, fishing, walking, or listening to music. You could even get a book from the library and sit and read it by one of the ponds. It will be a wonderful place to come and find respite from everyday life and at 60 acres it will be our largest developed park to date.”


The Julius M. Kleiner Park will also be home to the Meridian Senior Center and a branch of the Meridian Library. The Meridian Senior Center is proposed as a single-story 15,000 square-foot building with expansive views of the South Pond. A central courtyard will connect it to a new branch of the Meridian Library.


The Park Trust has retained Parametrix, a local planning and design firm, to lead development of the park. Award-winning landscape architects JensenBelts Associates, and Johnson Architects, who will design the park structures, complete the design team.


Now that the Meridian City Council has officially adopted the Master Plan, the project will move into Design Development. Park construction is expected to begin as early as 2010, with an anticipated opening of spring 2011. Construction of the park is dependent upon the availability of utilities and roadways that will also serve the adjacent lifestyle center.


For more information about the Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park Trust, please call Susan Graham at (208) 898-0012.


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The City of Meridian is located at the center of the Treasure Valley in southwest Idaho, minutes from the State Capitol. Founded as a farming community in 1893 and incorporated as a city in 1903, Meridian is now one of Idaho’s largest and fastest growing communities. As the home to many young families, Meridian is a vibrant community whose mission is to be a premier city to live, work and raise a family. For more information about Meridian, visit
 www.meridiancity.org.