This past year was one that saw us all challenged. No matter what stage of your life, industry you work in, or how you spend your free time, we all had to make adjustments to meet the goals and expectations from ourselves, our employers or others. The City was no different and as we made adjustments to our operations, City business continued to move forward and we had some great accomplishments throughout the year.
City staff immediately innovated, adapted and changed the way we do business, ensuring our premier customer standards never waivered in the midst of learning about the virus and how best to provide needed services to the community. These adaptations helped meet business needs during facility closures with employees working remotely, and we came to learn the new way of doing business increased both transparency and opportunities for customer participation. A great example of this is the transition to providing customers the opportunity to participate in public testimony via Zoom. This allows you to connect with Meridian City Council and voice your valued opinions from the comfort of your home, office, or even while traveling. We look forward to carrying many of these innovations forward beyond the pandemic.
Not only were we able to keep our processes moving forward, but we were also able to keep our projects moving forward. Our Public Works Department completed a $61,000,000 project expanding the Wastewater Resource and Recovery Facility. This needed update allows us to meet the regulatory permit requirements and accommodate our growing community. The project was six years in the making and is part of our master planned investment in this critical infrastructure. There is still much more to come, but the City is in a great position thanks to the long-term planning and execution of so many people over the years.
Public safety in Meridian saw a new addition, a future facility and a couple of big changes. In March, we celebrated the grand opening of our sixth fire station. The station is located in south Meridian and is providing much needed support to our other stations in the area. We have already seen a reduction in response times to this part of our community which can make all the difference in an emergency situation.
We also broke ground on a Scenario Training Center which will be used by Meridian’s Police and Fire Departments. Once constructed, the indoor Center will include multi-functional learning spaces, and a faux streetscape to provide first responders both variety and realism when training for scenarios. Completion of this facility is expected this summer.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to our former Police and Fire Chiefs who gave so much to our community. They both were able to find new challenges for their careers after serving a combined 24 years in their positions. Fortunately, the departments are well prepared and staff has stepped up to handle the daily operations as we plan for the future with new leadership. At the end of the day, residents should expect no disruption to the premier public safety services they have come to expect.
Last month our City’s new Strategic Plan was adopted by our City Council. This plan was put together based upon our community priorities we heard from our Comprehensive Planning process and the recent City Survey, and the plan will guide us through 2025. I am excited about the plan and will be working with the departments on their strategies in the coming months. You’ll find more information about the Strategic Plan at meridiancity.org/strategicplan.
Though COVID will remain on the forefront of our minds and decision making for the next several months, we remain focused on priorities to ensure Meridian will be the West’s premier community in which to live, work and raise a family. At the top of that list are transportation efforts and I will continue to push to expedite projects in Meridian through creative partnerships.
We are currently putting the finishing touches on our 2020 Annual Report that will highlight even more of last year’s accomplishments. Be sure to watch our website and subscribe to our newsletter for updates.